x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Sheikh Abdullah heads trade delegation to India in drive to boost ties

Bilateral treaties are expected to be announced today, as trade between the two countries reached Dh157.8bn, including nearly Dh13bn in gold exports to India.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed meets the vice-president of India, Mohammed Hamid Ansari. Courtesy of WAM
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed meets the vice-president of India, Mohammed Hamid Ansari. Courtesy of WAM

NEW DELHI // The UAE's foreign minister paid an official visit to India yesterday in an effort to increase trade between the two countries.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, began his two-day visit to New Delhi on Sunday. Yesterday, he met the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and Mohammed Hamid Ansari, the Indian vice-president.

A delegation of bureaucrats and businessmen from the UAE were expected to discuss shipping, aviation, telecommunications and energy.

Besides being home to one of the largest groups of Indian expatriates, the UAE is also India's largest trading partner in terms of total exchange in 2009-10. Bilateral trade between the two countries reached Dh157.8 billion (US$43bn), according to the Indian ministry of external affairs. Among its non-oil trade, the UAE's main export to India was gold, at a value of Dh12.85bn.

UAE investments in India are expected to reach Dh6.9bn, an all-time high, by December. The UAE has invested heavily in energy, services, software and construction.

Almost 1.4 per cent of India's foreign direct investment came from the UAE in 2009, placing the Emirates 10th among direct foreign investors.

UAE companies invested $1.5bn in 2009, boosting sectors such as energy, software, construction, hotel and tourism.

India's sagging infrastructure, from ports and railways to motorways, are also desperate for funding and an overhaul. It is estimated that the country needs $1.7 trillion over the next decade to develop new roads, ports, airports and metro lines.

Bilateral treaties are expected to be formally announced today.

Sheikh Abdullah also met the Indian national security adviser, Shiv Shankar Menon, and the Indian foreign minister, SM Krishna. They are expected to discuss maritime and energy security.

Sheikh Abdullah reiterated the UAE's support for India's bid for a permanent seat at the United Nation's Security Council, according to Vishnu Prakash, a spokesman for the Indian ministry of external affairs.

In November, Sheikh Khalifa, the President of the UAE, said India had the right to be a Security Council member, after a talk with the Indian president, Pratibha Patil, during her four-day visit to the UAE.

sbhattacharya@thenational.ae