Your Highness Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the UAE
Your Excellency Reem Ebrahim Al Hashimy, Minister of State
Distinguished members of the delegation from UAE
Delegation members from India
Ladies and gentlemen!
Let me extend a very warm welcome to all of you for the 11th session of the Joint Committee meeting. It is indeed a great pleasure to receive you here in New Delhi.
I thank Your Highness for taking time from your busy schedule to visit New Delhi. The Joint Commission meeting is one of the most important institutional mechanisms between our two countries for discussing the entire gamut of our bilateral partnership. This meeting is being held after a gap of more than three years.
I am very happy that our two delegations are finally here to discuss the way forward on many important issues, whether they are political, economic, consular or security related in nature. It is important that the meetings of the JCM are held regularly.
India and UAE share a centuries-old unique bond of mutual trust based on our shared values and synergies. Our economic, cultural and people-to-people ties are deep-rooted and marked by resilience and vibrancy.
I had visited United Arab Emirates (UAE) in November last year and was deeply impressed by the history, culture and especially by the vibrant and diversified economic progress achieved in a short span of a few decades. The inspirational leadership of United Arab Emirates has guided the spirit of excellence and innovation in the country which has resulted in remarkable growth and development.
Our bilateral relations have deepened which is reflected in the intensification of the High level exchanges between our two countries. Not only have there been exchanges of visits of Ministers and officials, but a large number of trade, economic, defence, scientific as well as cultural delegations have visited both countries which has made our partnership both stronger as well as truly multi-dimensional. I sincerely hope that we will be able to keep up the momentum of high level visits as well as the trade, business and people to people exchanges in the coming months.
The recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to UAE was an important milestone in the bilateral relations of our two countries especially as this was the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister after 1981, that is, after nearly 34 years. During the visit the two sides also agreed to elevate our friendly relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership by identifying new areas of cooperation.
In addition, visits of our Finance Minister for bilateral meetings and of the Minister of State for Commerce & Industry for the 3rd High Level Task Force on Investment are also in the pipeline. Our Minister of State for Finance visited UAE in April this year and had very useful meetings with Abu Dhabi Investment Agency, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Dubai international financial Centre as well as with the business community in UAE.
A number of trade delegations are scheduled to visit UAE later this year. Similarly, I understand that business delegations from UAE are regularly visiting India to explore opportunities of cooperation between the two sides. Such constant engagement is indeed welcome and would go a long way in realizing our two-way trade and investment potential.
Our bilateral economic and commercial relations are not only very strong but also broad-based encompassing a range of products and services. UAE is among the largest trading partners of India. Indians have emerged as important investors within the UAE and India as an important export destination for UAE manufactured goods.
However, given the relative size of our economies and the wide convergence of interests in many areas, the current level of trade and investments must be boosted. During the recent visit of our Prime Minister, we have agreed to increase our bilateral trade by 60% during the next five years. I am sure that the identification of new areas of trade and the signature of the Double Taxation avoidance agreement and the Bilateral Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement, will help us in achieving this goal.
Our Government has invited UAE companies to participate in the ‘Make in India’ initiative of our Government. This initiative offers scope for UAE investors in as many as 25 sectors including infrastructure, energy including renewable energy, defence, railways and highways.
During our Prime Minister’s visit it was decided that investment agencies in the UAE would be encouraged to make investments in infrastructure in India. We have recently announced the National Infrastructure Investment Fund and we sincerely hope that Abu Dhabi Investment Authority can look at investments of 10-20 percent of equity. The Fund is envisaged to be a commercial body which would be operated in a commercial manner. This would also give the UAE companies an edge when specific projects are announced.
The Government of India is committed to increase the ease of doing business in India and a number of initiatives including the simplification of procedures have already been taken to facilitate foreign companies’ participation in India’s growth story. I certainly hope that UAE companies and businesses would be able to take advantage of the present business friendly environment to make our partnership stronger.
We are very happy that the Foreign Minister of UAE has brought along a powerful delegation of business leaders with diverse areas of interest. We are very encouraged by the interest generated among the corporate leaders of UAE in India. We have also no doubt they will have useful interactions with their counterparts. I wish them success in their business ventures.
The last meeting of the India-UAE Joint Commission was held in April 2012. I am happy to note that since then not only significant progress has taken place in a number of areas but many new initiatives which were taken are now taking concrete shape. We are negotiating MOUs in several areas. Four MOUs in the field of Tourism, Higher Education and Scientific Research, for Specifications and Measures, and between two Telecom Regulatory Authorities are being signed today. Several others are in advanced stage or progress.
Since the last Joint Commission meeting, we have established the Defence Wing in our Embassy in Abu Dhabi in 2013. This has helped to deepen cooperation in the defence sector and I hope that we can further enhance our cooperation especially in the areas of training, maritime piracy, joint exercises and procurement as well as joint production of equipment.
The Joint Security Committee has also been established and has already held two meetings so far, that is, in March 2013 in Abu Dhabi and December 2014 in New Delhi. This has provided a very useful platform for discussions on all aspects of security cooperation between our two countries.
India and UAE have emerged as strong voices against terrorism. The rejection of extremism and any link between religion and terrorism articulated by the two sides in the joint statement issued during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to UAE has found resonance across the international community. Our two countries have rightly denounced and opposed terrorism in all forms and manifestations and called all states to reject and abandon the use of terrorism against other countries. We should work together for the early adoption of India’s proposed Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism at the United Nations.
Two meetings of the High Level Task Force on Investments have already taken place and I understand that significant progress has been made on a number of investment related issues which were pending for a long time. This is very encouraging for our businesses on both sides. The third meeting of the High Level Task Force on investment is likely to take place in the near future and this would give both sides an opportunity to discuss the pending issues with respect to investments and find a way forward.
Energy, including renewable energy has emerged as an important area for cooperation between the two sides. The Joint Working group on Renewable energy between our two countries has been set up and has held its first meeting in January 2015. India has an ambitious target of over 175 GW of energy from renewable sources by 2022 and I sincerely hope that UAE companies can look at some of these projects for investment especially as high rates of return are envisaged.
We would encourage you to also consider investments in the Indian hydrocarbon sector, especially in the areas of refining and petrochemicals. There is also ample scope of deepening cooperation in the upstream and midstream petroleum sectors. There is immense enthusiasm on both sides and I sincerely hope that this would lead to identification of joint projects which could be in either the public or the private sector.
In addition, our two sides are looking at cooperation in the areas of space, environment, agriculture, medium and small scale enterprises, transport, tourism, health as well as culture. I sincerely hope that concerned officials from both sides can follow up on this as soon as possible after this meeting.
I also deeply appreciate the fact that India and United Arab Emirates have shared ideals and aspirations of global peace, security, stability and prosperity. India looks forward to intensifying our joint efforts to build on our mutual goodwill and growing synergies to further strengthen our relationship.
United Arab Emirates is a second home, away from home in India, to over 2.6 million Indians and I take this opportunity to thank the leadership of United Arab Emirates for their vision and far-sighted policies. The Indian community in United Arab Emirates is vibrant and has also played a significant role in nurturing and further strengthening the friendly relations between the two countries.
On consular issues I would like to request the UAE side that if they could timely share with us information about arrest or detention of any Indian national or of Indian nationals already in UAE jails, it would help us in taking necessary action and providing them consular services. I also hope that the educational needs of the Indian children would be given continued attention by the UAE leadership as has been done over the last many decades.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Your Highness as well as all members of the delegation for being with us today.