India, UAE set to kick off political and business talks

index.jpgSource: The Economics Times, Oct 10, 2016

NEW DELHI: India and the United Arab Emirates will launch a political and economic dialogue later this month in Dubai as a prelude to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s presence as the chief guest for next year’s Republic Day celebrations, with the oil-rich Gulf nation looking to invest in the growing real estate sector besides ports and hydro-carbon related fields here.

Led by road transport, highways and shipping minister Nitin Gadkari and minister of state foreign affairs MJ Akbar, the Modi government will hold detailed discussions with UAE’s political leadership as well as local industry captains between October 18 and 20. UAE had announced that it will invest $75 bn in the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund. “Oil-rich and cash-rich UAE is looking east as it plans to diversify its economy.

The government in UAE feels that India is a natural partner with similar cultural traits, food habits and centuries-old trading ties. There is a natural synergy and the UAE leadership enjoys a level comfort with the biggest country in South Asia. India should try to cash in on the opportunity that currently exists there,” explained an official source familiar with the developments in UAE.

In what would be first political level meeting between the two sides since the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince accepted India’s invite for the R-Day celebrations, Akbar would seek to expand counter-terror partnership that has evolved in the past few years. The United Arab Emirates had come out strongly in India’s support after the Uri strikes, backing action by the Modi government against the terrorists.

The Gulf nation, in keeping with its core strengths in the real estate sector, development and expansion of ports and oil & associated sector, is eyeing to fund such projects, a person familiar with Indo-UAE economic partnership told ET. Two other areas that UAE investors are keen to explore are hospitality and healthcare in India.

But it is not just Emirati investors who are eyeing the lucrative market, Indian business groups including Lullu which have made it big in UAE and other five Gulf states are also keen to invest in the healthcare space.

The Modi government is hoping to attract funds from UAE for rapid expansion of next generation infrastructure, especially in railways, ports, roads, airports and industrial corridors and parks.

The UAE India Economic Forum, co-supported by Invest India (government’s investment promotion arm) scheduled in Dubai on Oct 19-20 participated by top UAE investors besides investors from other Arab nations would help to identity sectors for investments. There will be special session on startups at this Forum.

ET has learnt that the Dubai Ports Authority is keen to develop and expand ports along India’s huge coastline. Besides UAE is interested in setting up oil storage tanks in the ports here. Investors from UAE are looking to set up oil storage facilities besides small oil fields in this country.

UAE is already setting up India’s maiden strategic oil reserve facility in Karnataka and offering two-third oil for free. It may be noted that India is UAE’s second-largest trading partner, and the UAE is India’s third largest trading partner, after the US and China.

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