Jebel Ali port and Jafza key to UAE and India achieving $100bn trade target in five years

In 2021, Dubai accounted for 86 per cent, or $38.4bn worth of non-oil trade between the UAE and India

DP World's fully automated Terminal 2 at Jebel Ali Port in Dubai. Reuters
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Jebel Ali Port and Free Zone, port operator DP world’s flagship assets in Dubai, are key to boosting non-oil trade between India and the UAE to $100 billion as the two nations begin implementing their comprehensive economic partnership agreement (Cepa).

Dubai's strategic trading gateway is ideally positioned to complement the Cepa and help the countries to achieve their trade targets in the next five years, DP world said in a statement on Wednesday.

"In alignment with the UAE government’s strategy, we at DP World look forward to driving the success of India’s revolutionary 'Make in India' initiative while helping the emirate of Dubai to retain its position as a leading trade hub and India’s gateway to newer, larger markets,” said Abdulla bin Damithan, chief executive and managing director at DP World UAE and Jebel Ali Free Zone.

India-UAE Bridge, an initiative that will “integrate our assets and capabilities to enhance trade values for both nations”, is a key element in achieving this goal, he said.

“We also have the India Traders Market under development and the new agricultural terminal’s capabilities, which will all help India’s trade with the world," Mr bin Damithan said.

The Cepa, signed in February between the UAE and India, Asia’s third-largest economy, is designed to boost trade between the two countries from its present level of $60bn.

The agreement lifts 80 per cent of tariffs on UAE and India goods, with plans to scrap all fees within 10 years, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said in February.

It marks a new phase of co-operation and will open additional avenues of investment and trade for companies in India and the UAE.

The agreement is expected to add 1.7 per cent, or $8.9bn, to the UAE's gross domestic product. The deal will also boost exports by 1.5 per cent, or $7.6bn by 2030, Abdulla bin Touq, UAE Minister of Economy, said at the time of signing the agreement.

Despite macroeconomic and geopolitical headwinds around the globe, India and the UAE have recorded an increase in trade, with DP World as a key logistics enabler.

India’s exports to the UAE, excluding petroleum products, grew by 14.5 per cent annually in the three months since the two countries began the implementation of the Cepa.

Exports from India grew to $5.92bn in the three months from June to August, up from $5.17bn recorded for the same period in 2021, state news agency Wam reported in September, citing data from the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Although the implementation of the Cepa began on May 1, the ministry said the export data from the first 30 days were not included in the study because it was considered a transition period.

"The UAE is an excellent gateway for Indian exporters to have better access to markets and customers in Africa, the Middle East and Europe,” said Rizwan Soomar, chief executive and managing director sub-continent and sub-Saharan Africa at DP World.

“With the Cepa now firmly in place, I am confident that bilateral trade will reach the $100 billion mark well within the target time period."

In 2021, Dubai accounted for 86 per cent, or $38.4bn of the total $44.8bn worth of non-oil trade between the UAE and India. Indian companies at Jafza are the second largest partners in terms of trade volume, accounting for 4.4 million metric tonnes and fourth for trade value at $6.5bn, DP World said.

Through its joint investment platform with India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, DP World is investing up to $3bn to create integrated logistics infrastructure for India.

The port operator’s Indian portfolio includes logistics assets and services including five port terminals with a total annual capacity of six million 20-foot-equivalent units, as well as five container freight stations. It also operates 31 container trains and seven rail-linked private freight terminals.

DP World is developing three free-trade zones, more than 20 built-to-suit warehouses and more than 100 hubs for express cargo. Its feeder service, Unifeeder is the largest coastal shipping player in India with more than 70 per cent market share of coastal traffic, the company said on Wednesday.

Updated: October 19, 2022, 9:40 AM