UAE-India trade grows 10% in the first year since Cepa deal was signed

Non-oil trade at nearly $50bn since the Cepa was agreed upon, putting it on track to achieve its $100bn goal by 2030

Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, addressing an event marking the first year of the signing of the UAE-India Cepa Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement in Dubai on Friday. Photo: Ministry of Economy
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Trade between the UAE and India has increased by 10 per cent in the year after the countries agreed to a major economic treaty, setting the stage for greater co-operation throughout the Middle East and Asia.

Non-oil trade rose to nearly $50 billion since the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa) was signed a year ago today, putting it on track to achieve its $100 billion goal by 2030, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said in a statement on Saturday.

“It was a landmark agreement that created a powerful nexus of fast-growth nations who are helping to redefine the future of trade. And it delivered from day one,” Dr Al Zeyoudi said in a LinkedIn post.

He said India, South Asia's largest economy, is emerging as a “fourth economic pole” alongside the US, Europe and China.

“In parallel, we are cementing our position as a middle power — an innovation hub, a global market and a gateway to the world,” the minister said.

“As the economic centre of gravity shifts south and east, the UAE-India Cepa is creating an economic alliance that promises to help unlock the Asian future and establish the trade routes of tomorrow.”

The UAE signed its first Cepa with India a year ago today, and it took effect on May 1. The benefits of Cepa include enhanced market access, lower or eliminated tariff rules, simpler customs procedures, clear and transparent rules and rule-based competition.

This helped propel trade between the two nations to $38.6 billion in the first nine months of 2022 — almost double the figure recorded in the same period of 2020.

In the first eight months since its implementation, trade surged 30 per cent, which puts the countries on track to achieve $88 billion worth of trade in the financial year, Indian ambassador to the UAE Sunjay Sudhir said last month.

The UAE is India's third-biggest trading partner, while the South Asian nation is the Emirates’ second-largest trading partner. India hopes its exports will hit $1 trillion in the near to medium term, Piyush Goyal, India’s minister of commerce and industry, has previously said.

The deal, a part of the UAE's trade strategy, is also expected to add 1.7 per cent, or $8.9 billion, to the country's gross domestic product and increase exports by 1.5 per cent, or $7.6 billion, by 2030.

The Emirates aims to conclude at least 22 Cepa deals by 2031, Dr Al Zeyoudi said in December.

As the economic centre of gravity shifts south and east, the UAE-India Cepa is creating an economic alliance that promises to help unlock the Asian future and establish the trade routes of tomorrow
Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade

The UAE’s non-oil foreign trade reached a record Dh2.23 trillion ($607.1 billion) in 2022, as the Arab world’s second-largest economy accelerates efforts to reduce its dependence on hydrocarbons and boosts its economic partnerships globally, government data showed earlier this month.

On Friday, Dr Al Zeyoudi addressed a delegation from the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry as part of the one-year anniversary of Cepa.

The UAE-India Cepa is “another step on a journey that first began with our foundation as a united, independent nation in 1971. And it’s remarkable how far we have both come,” he said in a statement on Saturday.

“There is, in my mind, no better model of international co-operation than this modern, flexible and mutually beneficial deal, and I look forward greater collaboration and innovation as we begin to realise its full potential.”

The UAE Chapter of the UAE-India Business Council in Dubai was also launched on Friday. It aims to improve collaboration between the nations' business sectors and help them to access each other's markets and expertise.

Updated: September 02, 2023, 5:17 AM