The UAE’s economic relationship with India continues to evolve at an ever-rapid pace. In describing the strategic partnership, most observers will point to the significant bilateral trade of $85 billion and the consistent and constructive high-level government-to-government interactions. These apart, there remains a plethora of equally important interactions between our two business communities that largely remain undiscussed.

Often overlooked, are the tens of thousands of Indian and UAE MSMEs leveraging the significant benefits brought about by the signing of the UAE-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in February 2022.

This agreement is serving as a game-changer for all UAE and Indian businesses. The provision of duty-free access for 99 per cent of Indian exports in value terms to the UAE, alongside improved access for India’s service sector, means that the two countries are well ahead of reaching the target of achieving $100 billion in non-oil bilateral trade before 2030.

Positive trajectory

The signing of the CEPA has transformed the UAE-Indian relationship, enabling both governments to commit to ensuring that both emerging and long-established enterprises can benefit from the positive trade trajectory. It also explains the fundamental reason behind the recent establishment of the UAE-India CEPA Council (UICC). Officially launched three months ago, the Council is not only actively promoting the CEPA’s advantages but is also engaging with UAE and Indian businesses at the grassroots level to unlock new and greater opportunities for growth.

The Council’s success is affirmed by the accomplishments of the entities it engages with on a daily basis, actively supporting consumer product exporters in Chennai, biotech companies in Bengaluru, and jewellery manufacturers in Jaipur to enable them meet their business goals. Moreover, it plays a crucial role in connecting UAE and Indian companies seeking to enter each other’s markets, offering tailored advice and guidance.

Moreover, the Council aims to empower Indian companies to trade directly with the UAE and leverage the UAE’s unique position as a futuristic, thriving hub and strategically located access point for businesses looking to connect with other markets in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

The UICC maintains direct engagement with companies representing a wide-range of sectors, and recognises that broader ties between the UAE and India extend beyond traditional political and economic nodes such as Abu Dhabi-Delhi and Dubai-Mumbai. Companies and entrepreneurs operating in cities including Vadodara and Mysuru, and emirates such as Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah, also play an increasingly important role within the UAE-India economic, investment, and trading ecosystem, which is why the UICC will be undertaking business roundtable events across India over the months ahead.

These events, including our most recent roundtable taking place in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industries in Jaipur on April 24, are aimed not only at promoting the CEPA, but at ensuring companies are able to take advantage of new bilateral developments evident in strategic sectors such as agri-tech, green energy, medical and life sciences, and education, among others.

Beyond this, UICC events provide Indian companies to undertake direct engagement with leading UAE private sector entities and governmental stakeholders.

With support from both the UAE and Indian governments, the Council aims to implement an inclusive and ambitious agenda that promotes the UAE-India partnership by ensuring businesses understand the CEPA benefits, and by offering direct support and guidance to key stakeholders and counterparts.

Abdulnasser Al Shaali is the UAE Ambassador to India, and Ahmed Aljneibi is the Director of the UAE-India CEPA Council

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