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India, UAE set up CEPA council to push business ties

To deepen ties, India and UAE have set another catalyst in motion by officially unveiling the United Arab Emirates-India CEPA Council at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit

India, UAE set up CEPA council to push business ties
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

A month ahead of the second anniversary of the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), both countries set another catalyst in motion to deepen their ties by launching the United Arab Emirates-India CEPA Council (UICC) at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit this week.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had welcomed UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Wednesday and acknowledged his contributions to strengthening India-UAE relations. Al Nahyan was the chief guest at the India-UAE Business Summit, where the UICC was launched.

India became the first country with which the UAE signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), sparking a new era of cooperation and strengthening the long-standing cultural, political, and economic ties.

CEPA has helped reduce tariffs on more than 80% of product lines, eliminate trade barriers, and create new pathways for investment and joint ventures. India-UAE trade increased by approximately 15% after CEPA came into force in 2022. The trade jumped up to $85 billion in 2022.

The launch of the CEPA Council facilitated a focused discussion session for further cooperation in areas such as trade finance, investment facilitation, and sectoral collaboration.

Some of the key initiatives at this summit involved a presentation on India’s proposed Bharat Mart, a warehousing facility in the UAE, to support Indian exporters.

Abdulnasser Alshaali, the UAE’s envoy to India, wrote in a recent column for Mint that the council will not only grasp opportunities provided by signing the CEPA but will also leverage the close and constructive strategic partnership developed between India and UAE.

Alshaali highlighted that this council would encourage inclusive and diverse partnerships across all levels of business communities, including startups, women entrepreneurs, micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), and the services sector. The council will also help organize events for crucial business communities in both countries and extend their resources to help them achieve business goals, Alshaali said.

While listing key takeaways of CEPA, the UAE ambassador to India said that apart from providing the obvious benefits to businesses in both countries, like expanded market access to companies in both countries, lower tariffs, and unparalleled custom procedures, the UAE has risen to the position of India’s fourth largest investor and third largest trading partner and second-largest export destination. He added that this collaborative spirit extends to various sectors, including aviation.

He mentioned that CEPA has been a launch pad for developing more profound and nuanced relations and encouraged strategic and political alignment unprecedented in both countries’ history. Following CEPA, both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in July last year to establish a framework to promote using local currencies (INR-AED) for cross-border transactions.

While appreciating and acknowledging India’s unflinching support throughout the United Arab Emirates presidency of CoP-28 and the UAE of India’s G20 presidency, he remarked that this mutual support indicates the importance both countries place upon this partnership. He further acknowledged the Indian government’s support for UAE’s recent membership of BRICS- Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. He claimed that this support would serve as a catalyst for bilateral ties and qualitatively expand the mutual desire to promote peace and prosperity at the global level.

The inaugural Session of the India-UAE Business Summit included keynote addresses from Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, and Kunal Bahl, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Ministry of Economy (UAE), along with special remarks from Bhupendra Patel, Chief Minister of Gujarat.

India- UAE summit also witnessed the launch of the report on the CII India-UAE Startup Initiative titled “Unlocking Opportunities: India- UAE Startup Ecosystem Convergence.” Chairman – Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) National Startup Council and Co-founder – Snapdeal and Titan Capital also participated in the sessions held at the summit.

Alshaali added that the ties between the two countries will serve as a model for other countries seeking to build a long-lasting and multidimensional relationship.


Kaumudi Kashikar-Gurjar is an Associate Editor at Press Insider. Based in Pune, Kaumudi is a resourceful writer and a trained multimedia journalist who covers business and economy. Formerly the bureau chief at Sakal Times and Mid Day, Kaumudi has written extensively on politics and governance over her career spanning 20 years for publications including the Pune Mirror. More

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