Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed chairs UAE-India Joint Committee

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation meets Indian minister and delegation to discuss ongoing relations

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Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, chaired the 14th UAE-India Joint Committee on Thursday, at his ministry's headquarters in Abu Dhabi.

Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India's Minister of External Affairs, led his country's delegation to the meeting.

"I would like to begin by extending a warm welcome to each of you," Sheikh Abdullah said.

"It is wonderful to see so many familiar faces in the room. It is my hope that the United Arab Emirates by now feels like a second home.

"I am very pleased to be here today to witness the convening of the UAE-India Joint Committee in its 14th session.

"I must start by emphasising my gratitude for the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, and Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of the Republic of India.

"We have benefitted greatly from their wise guidance and stewardship as our strategic relations broaden and deepen."

Sheikh Abdullah said the dialogue between the two countries yielded success in a broad range of areas, most notably the launch of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2017, and the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, or Cepa, in 2022.

"The growth of our economic relations brought about by Cepa has generated substantial opportunities in areas such as trade, investment, tourism and aviation," he said.

"Indeed, our respective economies have already begun to prosper under this agreement.

"India ranks as the top export partner to the UAE, second in terms of imports, and first in attracting foreign direct investments from the UAE.

"Additionally, air traffic between the two countries reached nearly 3.5 million passengers in 2021."

Sheikh Abdullah said the UAE was the second largest destination and source for Indian exports and imports, with a strong and growing position as a foreign direct investment source for the country.

"The total trade between the two countries has reached an unprecedented level, climbing to almost $70 billion in 2021," he said.

"Indeed, our relationship is one of the most successful bilateral stories in the field of economic diplomacy.

"The success of our relationship has been augmented by the establishment of various multilateral co-operation initiatives.

"Our multilateral co-operation is an integral part of our strategy to advance Emirati-Indian relations, while enhancing our standing regionally and globally."

Sheikh Abdullah said the successful collaboration within the Indian Ocean Rim Association, and the co-operation between the two nations within the I2U2 grouping, were evidence of the opportunities the UAE and India had in international organisations and institutions.

"I also look forward to deeper co-operation with India via the intensification of the UAE's participation in the Brics group, the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation and the G20," he said.

"We are eager to make meaningful contributions within these forums in a manner consistent with the UAE’s standing in the international community."

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed in online summit with India's Narendra Modi – in pictures

He thanked India for its support for the UAE’s candidacy for membership to the Council of the International Telecommunication Union for 2023 to 2026.

"Furthermore, we value India’s support for the UAE’s renomination for membership in the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation Group III for the period 2022 to 2025.

"Honourable Minister of External Affairs, colleagues: as you will recall, upon the signing and implementation of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, we set an ambitious goal of raising the volume of our non-oil trade to $100bn over the next five years.

"In order to reach this goal and achieve the ambitious economic vision put forth by both sides, I have personally been keen to elevate the role of the UAE embassy in facilitating trade and investment co-operation.

"I hope that our embassy will become a model for our embassies and missions all over the world.

"As we continue discussing the opportunities, achievements and distinguished relationships that comprise the UAE-India relationship, it also behooves us to tackle the challenges that emerge as we grow closer."

Sheikh Abdullah urged both sides to work together constructively on solving such challenges

"We must not put off addressing outstanding issues but instead, we must devise intuitive and innovative solutions to our challenges to ensure that they can be consigned to history as yet another record of our success," he said.

Sheikh Abdullah stressed the need to advance issues of double taxation exemptions and aviation, as these two areas "constitute an axis for our continued trade, investment and tourism growth".

He said Emirati-Indian relations had deep historical roots, which could be witnessed in the close social ties between the citizens of both countries.

"There is no doubt that our shared values and customs, as well as our bonds of friendship, have grown stronger over the last five decades," Sheikh Abdullah said.

"I look forward to the continued advancement of our cultural relations, including through the UAE’s initiatives such as the Zayed Gandhi Digital Museum, which honours the values of the Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, as well as celebrating the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth."

He said the establishment of the Emirati-Indian Cultural Council would create more opportunities for cultural co-operation.

"In my view, encouraging joint cultural projects and dialogue between the leaders of both countries will be essential in developing deeper shared understandings.

"It is, after all, a solid cultural foundation that unites the Emirati and Indian peoples, enabling achievements across the political and economic fields."

Sheikh Abdullah concluded by thanking Dr Jaishankar and members of the UAE and Indian delegations, calling on them to continue the outstanding work being done to continue to serve the two nations in pursuit of a common vision built on the values of peace, tolerance and prosperity.

Dr Jaishankar hailed the long-standing strategic relations between the two nations, commending the significant role played by the UAE when global morale was low over the past period.

"We also appreciate that when global morale was low, the UAE conveyed a categorical message to the world that when the going gets tough, the tough get going," he said.

"In the last two years there has been a growing realisation on both sides that we are an integral element of each other’s economy and political future.

"Our track record, in term of concrete deliverables, says it all.

"Conclusion of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement in 88 days underscores the commitment of both sides and makes a loud and clear statement to the world that where there is will, and trust, there is a way."

Dr Jaishankar said he was happy that, in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic, the high-level interaction between the two countries has continued.

"In this context, I wish to thank President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for receiving Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in Abu Dhabi on June 28, 2022," he said.

"If a picture is worth a thousand words, I think the picture of the warm embrace between our leaders was worth a million.

"Another historical accomplishment has been the unveiling of the Joint Vision Document by our leaders in February this year as a roadmap for our partnership for the coming years and decades.

"I am happy to note that work has already commenced in several areas including climate action, renewable energy, health co-operation in Africa, setting up IIT in the UAE, united payment interface, skills co-operation, setting up a cultural council and other areas."

Sheikh Abdullah and Dr Jaishankar then signed the minutes of the 14th UAE-India Joint Committee meeting.

They watched the signing of a preliminary agreement between the Wildlife Institute of India and the International Fund for Houbara Conservation in the UAE.

It was signed by Abdullah Al Qubaisi, managing director of the International Fund for Houbara Conservation, and Sunjay Sudhir, Indian ambassador to the UAE.

Sheikh Abdullah and Dr Jaishankar also witnessed the signing of an agreement between their ministries on the establishment of the UAE-India Cultural Council Forum.

It was signed by Omar Ghobash, assistant minister of foreign affairs and international co-operation for cultural affairs, and Mr Sudhir.

Before the launch of the joint committee's work, Sheikh Abdullah met Dr Jaishankar, along with their delegations, to explore the avenues of further consolidating the strategic relations and comprehensive partnerships between the two friendly countries.

They also exchanged views on regional and international issues of interest.

Those in the UAE delegation included Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Khaled Belhoul, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, and Dr Abdel Nasser Al Shaali, assistant minister for economic and trade affairs at the ministry.

Also there were: Dr Ahmed Al Banna, UAE ambassador to India; Hamid bin Salem, chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce (UAE); and Khalil Khoori, Undersecretary for Human Resources Affairs.

Updated: September 02, 2022, 1:59 PM