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‘The deal is done’: India signs its first-ever bilateral free trade agreement with UAE

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Union minister of commerce and industry Piyush Goyal today, February 18, said both India and UAE are entering a golden era of economic and trade cooperation with the signing of the India-UAE CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement). The Union minister held a bilateral meeting with the UAE delegation led by Minister of Economy Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri and Minister of State for Foreign Trade.

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The two sides issued a joint vision statement that outlined the future course of relations and highlighted areas of focus, including enhanced maritime cooperation and joint steps to fight terrorism and measures to boost trade and investment.

The negotiation process for the comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA), which was signed by commerce minister Piyush Goyal and UAE’s economy minister Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri in New Delhi, was one of the shortest in recent years. The two sides began work on the pact in September last year and it was finalised in a little more than three months.

The agreement will provide significant benefits to Indian and UAE businesses, including enhanced market access and reduced tariffs. The CEPA will boost bilateral trade from the current $60 billion to $100 billion in the next 5 years.

“The deal is done! Signed the pathbreaking #IndiaUAECEPA along with the UAE Minister of Economy H.E Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri. The sky is the limit for our trade & economic ties as we commit to building a shared future & enhancing the prosperity of our people,” Goyal said, adding that both nations are entering a golden era of economic and trade cooperation with the signing of India-UAE CEPA.

India-UAE CEPA trade deal:

CEPA is expected to create new jobs, raise living standards, and provide wider social and economic opportunities in both nations. The new strategic economic agreement will increase bilateral trade in goods to $100 billion in five years of the signed agreement and increase trade in services to $15 billion, a statement released during the launch of formal trade tasks back in September 2021 said.

Notably, the UAE is currently India’s third-largest trading partner with bilateral trade in 2019/2020 valued at $59 billion. The UAE is also India’s second-largest export destination after the US, with exports valued at $29 billion in 2019-2020. India was the UAE’s second-largest trading partner in 2019, with bilateral non-oil trade valued at $41 billion.

The UAE is also the eighth-largest investor in India, having invested $11 billion between April 2000 and March 2021, while investment by Indian companies in the UAE is estimated to be over $85 billion.

India’s major exports to UAE:

India’s major exports to the UAE include petroleum products, precious metals, stones, gems and jewellery, minerals, food items such as cereals, sugar, fruits and vegetables, tea, meat, and seafood, textiles, engineering and machinery products, and chemicals.

India’s top imports from the UAE include petroleum and petroleum products, precious metals, stones, gems and jewellery, minerals, chemicals and wood and wood products. India imported $10.9 billion of crude oil from the UAE in 2019-2020.

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