Why the UAE is forging closer ties with India

World’s largest democracy expected to overtake China in 2022 to become the world’s most populous nation


Open for business: Indian businessmen have long been a part of the Dubai economy, including as traders.

Open for business: Indian businessmen have long been a part of the Dubai economy, including as traders.

Over the past few years, India has strengthened its position as one of the largest growth engines in the world, outshining other BRIC economies that have been impacted by the global slowdown, market volatility and lower oil prices.

The long-term outlook appears even more promising given the strong fundamentals that are driving economic growth within the country, namely the rising middle class, urbanisation and an increase in consumer spending.

India is also the world’s largest democracy and according to UN estimates, its population is expected to overtake China’s in 2022 to become the world’s most populous nation.

These trends mark a turning point in India’s growth story, and these factors are creating a plethora of exciting opportunities, which businesses and investors in the UAE stand to significantly benefit from.

The UAE and India have enjoyed strong trade and cultural ties that date back more than a century. This unique relationship has strengthened in recent decades amid an increase in bilateral trade and investment. Non-oil trade between India and Dubai has accounted for the largest volume of trade, amounting to $19bn in the first nine months of 2016, and solidifying India’s position as the emirate’s second-largest trading partner.

The Indian business community in the UAE has contributed significantly to bilateral relations and trade. In fact, 29 percent of all new companies that registered with Dubai Chamber last year were Indian, bringing the total number of Indian members to over 36,000. At the same time, India remains one of the top export markets for Dubai Chamber members, with exports and re-exports to the country growing steadily in recent years to reach $1.7bn by the end of 2016.

Yet, we see huge potential within India’s fast-growing economy that has yet to be explored. The two countries share many synergies, especially within the areas of agriculture, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing and metals.

The world’s fifth-largest economy has renewed its focus on foreign trade, while it has also outpaced China in exports of locally made retail and lifestyle products. At the same time, it has stepped up efforts to strengthen its economic cooperation with the UAE in the areas of agriculture, food security, energy, defence, technology and healthcare.

India has put forth a clear roadmap to fuel future economic growth that places a major emphasis on expanding its infrastructure and boosting foreign direct investment. The country is building several cluster cities and recently opened its first international finance services centre in Ahmedabad. New policies are also focussed on turning India into a manufacturing hub for pharmaceutical and medical products under the “Make In India” initiative.

There are also exciting new technologies that India is embracing, such as blockchain, which has now been successfully tested by the country’s central bank.   Smart city concepts are also gaining momentum and the adoption of innovative solutions stands to make the country a major hotspot for smart city developments.

As a country that has excelled in rapidly expanding its infrastructure and economy, I believe that the UAE can offer the right level of expertise and investment needed to meet growing demand within India and help turn the country’s ambitions into a reality.

This is why Dubai Chamber is leading a high-level delegation of UAE-based businesses and investors to Mumbai and Ahmedabad this month. The trade mission is being held as part of our Global Business Forum roadshow to India, which we consider to be a market of strategic importance.

During the trade mission, delegates will gain a better understanding about India’s business environment, meet with key stakeholders from the country’s private and public sectors, and discuss new opportunities and challenges through focussed discussions.

Through this important visit, we hope to take bilateral relations to the next level, and build a stronger foundation that will facilitate an open a dialogue and encourage closer cooperation between our business communities.

Later this year, the Chamber will plan to open a new representative office in India, which will become an essential part of our efforts to explore trade and investment opportunities in the country that offer the most potential for our members.

By establishing a presence in this massive market, we can also better assist companies and investors in that market that want to trade with the UAE, and expand their footprint in the GCC, Africa and Europe, by leveraging Dubai’s status as a trade hub.

I am very optimistic about the prospects and avenues of cooperation that will be explored during the trade mission. I am confident that the visit will help us build on the progress that has been achieved thus far, and ultimately bring about mutual benefits and economic growth.

 

Hamad Buamim, President and CEO of Dubai Chamber

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