NEW DELHI: The UAE wants to expand ties with India beyond the economic spectrum, Abu Dhabi’s envoy to New Delhi told Arab News, as the two countries are increasing engagement during the Indian presidency of the Group of 20 largest economies.
Economic ties between the two countries received a major boost when their Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement came into force in May last year. The landmark deal reduced tariffs on about 80 percent of all goods and provided zero-duty access to 90 percent of Indian exports.
“The momentum has been great. We have had many senior officials coming from the UAE and from India visiting the UAE. We have had quite a few ministers visit. We have a minister visiting almost every month. And non-oil bilateral trade is now above $40 billion and the target is $100 billion by 2027,” UAE Ambassador to India Abdulnasser Jamal Al-Shaali told Arab News in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
“We are keen on expanding ties with India in every possible way, so not just in the bilateral spectrum of things, but also exploring trilateral, multilateral venues ... you would see us being very active as well in the G20 presidency by the Indian government.”
While Saudi Arabia is the only Middle Eastern country in the G20, India, which is chairing the group this year, can invite non-G20 members to its processes and meetings.
The UAE is India’s special guest — alongside Oman and Egypt — and will also take part in the group’s summit in September.
The growing representation of Middle Eastern countries will result in a “higher engagement between India and the countries in the region,” the UAE ambassador said.
“Alignment in the G20 is important not only between India and the countries in the Arab world, but also among the G20 countries and among the countries that get invited,” Al-Shaali said.
The Indian government, he added, has “made sure that it has a different kind of representation in the G20 meeting than what we have seen in the past few years, and this further affirms the commitment that India has to the region and, of course, it has the region’s support in its G20 presidency.”
While economic ties between New Delhi and Abu Dhabi are reaching new heights under last year’s trade pact, the UAE is also investing in people-to-people relations.
“We are only just starting,” Al-Shaali said. “We are focusing a lot on people-to-people ties. We have just signed an MoU on establishing cultural councils, the second chapter of the India-UAE business council has been established as well ... we are exploring all venues; we are expanding in the areas both countries are interested in.”