This week marks the two-year anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the United Arab Emirates and the Republic of India. In only a short period of time, our two countries have highlighted that in a world increasingly turning inward and adopting protectionism, there is a clear path forward for those seeking to embrace open cooperation, shared prosperity, and inclusive growth.

The CEPA’s achievements have been immense. In particular, by eliminating duties on 97.4 percent of its tariff lines in the goods domain by the UAE, corresponding to 99 perent of imports from India, the CEPA has powered an unprecedented surge in bilateral commerce.

Riding on the back of the reductions in trade tariffs, the exchange in goods such as minerals and fuels, automobiles, and gems and jewellery have witnessed remarkable growth. India’s exports to the UAE increased by 12 per cent, reaching $31.6 billion in 2022-2023. Overall, bilateral non-oil trade between the UAE and India reached $50.5 billion, a 5.8 per cent annual increase, within the first 12 months of the signing.

The success of the CEPA only reinforces the vision of UAE and Indian leaders to developing an integrated strategic partnership across economics, technology, and culture, whilst serving as a building block for a range of joint investment cooperation in a range of cutting-edge and rapidly emerging sectors.

Most notably, initiatives like the food corridor linking the UAE to India’s production centres and the $2 billion UAE investment in food parks will enhance India’s output and help tackle food inflation. Of equal significance, as leading start-up hubs with deep technology prowess, our digital economies also stand to gain tremendously. Indian firms are leveraging UAE’s 5G infrastructure and logistics networks to offer digital solutions across the region. Partnerships in fintech, edtech, health-tech and clean energy tech will undoubtedly drive the next chapter of our shared growth story.

CEPA boost

Beyond investment partnerships, the CEPA has also encouraged the establishment of platforms that promote economic dialogue between our diverse business sectors. For example, the recently constituted UAE-India CEPA Council will serve to further harness the agreement’s potential, whilst identifying new avenues for growth, resolving obstacles to trade, and showcasing opportunities for companies, both large and small, to benefit from the CEPA.

The CEPA and the Council are only some of the new pathways that are taking the UAE-India strategic partnership into the future. The recent signing of the bilateral investment treaty, the UAE’s commitment to invest in India’s priority sectors, and new energy and food security cooperation underscore the rapid growth of our bilateral relationship since the CEPA’s signing.

While economic gains are pivotal, and the role of our two business communities and governments remain central to ensuring the CEPA’s success, we should also not underestimate the power of cultural exchange and people-to-people connections.

Historic ties

Both of our nations share deep historical ties, which the CEPA not only acknowledges but also seeks to strengthen. In particular, the agreement harnesses our long standing collaboration in diverse fields, such as education, tourism, arts, and healthcare to the benefit of both our societies. Ultimately, it is the people of our two countries—entrepreneurs, artists, students, and families—who are the well-spring of our bilateral partnership, shaping a future that embraces shared values and purpose, which we should encourage and seek to nourish.

As the global environment evolves, CEPA’s underlying collaborative spirit will continue to promote economic adaptability and resilience, keeping our nations on course for a future of greater success.

Representing one of the most meaningful chapters in the history of the UAE-India trade, the CEPA illustrates how strategic alliances can promote mutual development and inclusive growth. The CEPA is not merely a trade agreement; it is a blueprint for a multifaceted strategic relationship that intertwines commerce, investment, and cultural connections. As the UAE and India continue upon this journey, we are paving the way for a future marked by prosperity, collaboration, and enduring friendship.

The writer is the UAE Ambassador to India