India-UAE Relations: Latest Update

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi paid official visit to India from 24-26 January 2017. He was the Chief Guest at India’s 68th Republic Day celebrations.

This was the second successive State Visit by Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed to India since February 2016.

The two sides reaffirmed their deep commitment to building a comprehensive strategic partnership, as agreed upon during the landmark visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the UAE in August 2015 and reiterated during the last visit of Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed to India in February 2016, in order to elevate their multifaceted ties to an even higher and qualitatively new level based on mutual understanding and confidence in each other with the primary aim to ensure peace and prosperity of their two peoples. In this context, both nations signed the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement.

The two leaders agreed to support each other’s candidatures and campaigns at the United Nations.

Acknowledging that the agreement on Defence Cooperation renewed in 2014 provided the general framework to strengthen bilateral defence ties, the two leaders agreed to provide further impetus to these relations, including through joint exercises, training of naval, air and land forces, as also in the area of coastal defence and through participation in defence exhibitions etc.

The two sides expressed common resolve to bolster cooperation and exchanges on countering piracy in their shared maritime domain in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean regions and to exchange experiences in maritime security, including joint anti-piracy training and exercises. They agreed to establish technical arrangement for white shipping information exchange and to explore cooperation in the field of hydrography. The UAE side expressed interest in the coastal surveillance systems developed by India.

In order to develop a medium and long term strategy for increasing bilateral trade by 60 percent over the next five years, as agreed during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the UAE in August 2015, the two sides decided to conduct required studies to come up with action plans by June 2017. These would focus on identification of potential sectors and the impeding tariff and non-tariff barriers, exploring opportunities in services sector and formulating a sector-specific strategy to boost two way trade and investments.

The two sides underlined the importance of the MoU on Indian Rupee and UAE Dirham Bilateral Currency Swap Arrangement between Reserve Bank of India and Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates concluded during the Crown Prince’s previous visit in February 2016, as a useful mechanism for trade promotion.

It was also noted that the MOUs signed by the Confederation of Indian Industry with the Registration Authority of Abu Dhabi Global Market as also with Global Manufacturing & Industrialization Summit in November 2016 and another on Mutual Cooperation and Technical Assistance between SEBI and Abu Dhabi Global Market Financial Services Regulatory Authority would facilitate joint collaboration on initiatives and efforts to further encourage business developments.

The two leaders lauded the work of the UAE-India High Level Task Force on Investments and reiterated the important role it plays in promoting economic and investments cooperation between the two countries.

The two leaders reviewed the progress in realizing the USD 75 billion target for UAE investments in India’s plans for rapid expansion of next generation infrastructure development.

PM Modi invited UAE participation in India’s National Infrastructure Investment Master Fund as an anchor investor. The two leaders agreed that the Joint Working Group formed under the MOU on the framework for facilitating the participation of UAE Institutional Investors in National Infrastructure Investment Fund should meet regularly to boost investment ties to realize the full potential.

Describing the existing Bilateral Investment Treaty of December 2013 a key framework for promotion of investments ties, the two leaders directed their respective Ministries to commence renegotiations on the revised treaty text for early finalization.

The two sides agreed to further strengthen their mechanisms for exchange of information in tax matters under the existing Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement.

The two leaders agreed that the joint working group established under the ambit of this MOU would meet during 2017 to explore a long-term plan to identify and implement projects of mutual interest. Prime Minister Modi expressed happiness at the UAE’s plan to launch a Mars Mission in 2021.

Following 14 MOUs/AGREEMENTS were signed during the visit:

1. Agreement on Comprehensive Strategic Partnership: This is a general framework agreement which highlights the areas of bilateral cooperation identified under the comprehensive strategic partnership as agreed upon in the high level joint statements issued in the August 2015 and February 2016.

2. MOU on technical development and cooperation in cyber space: This MoU provides for further deepening of cooperation in cyber space through setting up of joint Research & Development Centres of Excellence.

3. MoU in the field of Defence Industry: This MoU aims to establish cooperation in the identified fields of defence manufacturing and technology, including through studies, research, development, innovation and cooperation between public and private sector institutions of the two countries. The two sides will cooperate in areas of armaments, defence industries and transfer of technology.

4. MoU on Institutional Cooperation on Maritime Transport: This MoU provides a framework for enhancing bilateral maritime trade ties through facilitating maritime transport, free transfer of monies between contracting parties and reciprocal recognition of ships’ documents.

5. MOU on Mutual Recognition of Certificates of Competency as per the provisions of the Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping Convention (STCW78) and amendments thereof: This MoU aims to deepen the maritime economic activities in general by establishing a framework for Mutual Recognition of Certificates of Competency of marine officers, engineers and crews.

6. MoU on Bilateral Cooperation in the Road Transport and Highways Sector: This MoU aims to establish cooperation in the sectors of Highways and Road transport through sharing of technologies, systems and best practices in freight logistics, warehousing and value added services.

7. MOU on cooperation in prevention and combating of human trafficking: This MoU aims to enhance bilateral cooperation on the issue of prevention, rescue, recovery and repatriation related to human trafficking, especially of women and children expeditiously.

8. MoU for the cooperation in the field of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and innovation: This MoU aims at promoting cooperation in MSMEs Sectors, including in joint projects, R & D and related activities.

9. MoU in agriculture and Allied sectors: This MoU aims to develop a framework for cooperation in various agricultural fields of mutual interest, including through enhancement of cooperation in food processing and transfer of technology in cultivation methods.

10. MOU on mutual exemption of entry visa requirements to the holders of Diplomatic, special and Official Passports: The agreement allows holders of diplomatic, special and official passports visa free travel between the two countries.

11. MoU for cooperation in programme exchange: This MoU aims to strengthen ties between Prasar Bharati and Emirates News Agency (WAM), UAE through cooperation in the field of broadcasting, mutual exchange of programmes, news and best practices.

12. MoU on trade remedial measures to promote cooperation in areas of mutual interest: This MoU aims to enhance cooperation in the field of anti-dumping and allied duties through exchange of information, capacity-building, seminars and trainings in mutually indentified areas related to trade remedial measures.

13. Agreement on Oil Storage And Management between Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company: This agreement aims to establish a framework for the storage of crude oil by Abu Dhabi National Oil Company in India and to further strengthen the strategic relationship between the two countries in the field of energy.

14. MOU between National Productivity Council and Al Etihad Energy Services Co. LLC: This MOU is on Cooperation in Energy Efficiency Services.