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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

India wants to collaborate with UAE on exports to 'Africa, Central America and Central Asia'

India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu elaborated on plans discussed with UAE officials ahead of prime minister Narendra Modi's visit next week

Indian Minister of Commerce Suresh Prabhu. WAM
Indian Minister of Commerce Suresh Prabhu. WAM

India is keen to join forces with the Emirates and work together to identify export opportunities in Africa, Latin America and Central Asia.

India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu elaborated on plans discussed with UAE officials in which areas of future cooperation were discussed from defence, finance and the small and medium enterprise sectors.

Mr Prabhu also touched on the UAE’s food security and export of agricultural products in New Delhi on Thursday.

“The UAE provides stability with energy security because we buy a significant portion of our oil from the country. The UAE imports quite a lot including food and agriculture items. For our energy security we depend on the UAE, we can ensure the food security of the UAE,” he said.

The two countries have been among each other's top trading partners with bilateral trade of about $50 billion in 2015-16.

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The UAE is among India’s top investors in terms of foreign direct investment. It was the fifth largest supplier of crude oil to India in 2015-16.

“We are preparing an agricultural export policy and I can see a great scope of working together with the UAE to find out the markets we can export to and how we can leverage the UAE and India together. We are working on multiple strategies like this,” he said, while speaking about building on the strengths of both nations.

“We would like to work with the UAE on an interesting idea one, which is third country exports in Africa, Latin America and Central Asia to make joint exports. We also want to develop joint service sector projects with Abu Dhabi. We feel the UAE and India have much more to do bilaterally, but nothing has been done multilaterally. We can work together in third countries in a very big way.”

Funds from the Emirates have increased over the past years. The UAE ranks eight on the country-wise foreign inflow into India in terms of FDI, according to the Reserve Bank of India’s annual report on country-specific FDI in August last year.

Mr Prabhu has had meetings with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Mubadala.

Six to 7 sectors were identified for investment during a January meeting with the high-level task force where Mr Prabhu chairs the Indian side and Sheikh Hamid bin Zayed chairs the UAE delegation.

For the first time, Adia is creating an India desk and plans an India office, he said.

The UAE has expressed interest in investing in infrastructure development in India and signed memorandums of understanding to facilitate the participation of Emirati investors as part of a $75billion target.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to sign 12 to 14 agreements in the UAE during his two-day stay next week.

Referring to Mr Modi’s visit, Mr Prabhu indicated several big announcements.

“We have investments from Abu Dhabi in India but we are exploring big ticket investments,” he said.

“There are quite a few billion-dollar investments we have identified. There will be some good news with the Prime Minister’s visit.”

He declined to elaborate on specific sectors.

Mr Modi will be the key speaker at the World Government Summit and ahead of the UAE visit, Mr Prabhu also met a delegation from the Emirates.

“We discussed the possibility of defence cooperation, agriculture, small and medium sector and cooperation in financial services,” he said.

India has also proposed a free trade agreement with the UAE or the GCC.

No further details were available.