New Delhi (The Hawk): Today in Mumbai, the United Arab Emirates and India held their tenth meeting of their High Level Joint Task Force on Investments. He was co-chaired by His Highness Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce & Industry, Government of India.
The UAE-India Joint Task Force was set up in 2013 to facilitate business and investment opportunities for both countries. Shri. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, held a virtual summit in February 2022 during which they signed the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and unveiled the Joint UAE-India Vision Statement.
The Comprehensive Economic and Partnership Agreement (CEPA) is a landmark trade agreement that promises to revolutionise economic, trade, and investment ties between the two countries and boost economic growth. These two landmark agreements outline a specific path for the two countries to speed up their efforts to strengthen their Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
When the historic India-UAE CEPA went into effect in May 2022, the co-chairs of the Joint Task Force noted positive early trends in bilateral trade between the two countries. The co-chairs emphasised the importance of taking full advantage of the thriving commercial environment made possible by CEPA. The co-chairs also mentioned the CEPA Joint Committee and related sub-committees that have been established.
The India and UAE delegations discussed the current state of the treaty's negotiations. There have been a total of 12 rounds of talks so far. Recognizing that much more could have been accomplished since negotiations began, both parties reaffirmed their determination to move quickly toward a fair and mutually beneficial agreement.
Key sectors, including food security, manufacturing, infrastructure, energy, and technology, were also discussed as means of bolstering bilateral investments. To this end, it was decided that the relevant agencies in both countries would look into creating Single Window Solutions and Virtual Trade Corridors to streamline trade and investment processes and cut down on red tape. From the United Arab Emirates' perspective, it was settled that Abu Dhabi's Department of Economic Development would investigate the possibility of cooperation in this area with its Indian counterparts in order to reach an agreement on an implementation strategy that would be beneficial to both parties.
The two countries discussed the UAE's request for tax incentives for certain UAE sovereign investment entities under the existing UAE-India Tax Treaty, and India's response to provide the same under the existing domestic tax laws of India, in an effort to increase investment flows from the UAE into India. The two countries have agreed to continue talking to each other in the hopes of reaching an agreement that will be good for both of them. The Finance Act 2020 and the related tax exemption notifications issued to UAE sovereign entities were praised for their helpfulness in this regard.
Developing a system for conducting bilateral trade in national currencies was a major topic of discussion. Both the Reserve Bank of India and the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates agreed to keep talking about Unified Payment Interface (UPI) as a unified digital payments platform.
With the positive backdrop of the expanding trade and investment relationship between India and the UAE, the two countries recognised the significance of using the Joint Task Force as a forum to address the unique challenges and opportunities that businesses encounter when expanding into each other's countries. In order to better assist UAE companies and investors in India, the Indian government has established a Fast Track Mechanism and a UAE Plus Desk. Investors from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have praised the work of the UAE Special Desk in India. The UAE Fast Track Mechanism in India will receive the necessary support from the Indian side to expeditiously resolve the outstanding issues and difficulties encountered by a number of UAE companies and banks doing business in India.
It was also decided that the United Arab Emirates would immediately establish a mechanism similar to India's Fast Track to deal with concerns raised by Indian investors and help Indian businesses break into and grow within the UAE's economy. It was noted that there were problems with some Indian companies operating in the UAE, and it was agreed that the UAE side would provide the necessary support to help get those problems solved as soon as possible to everyone's satisfaction.
At the meeting, Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, and Textiles for the Government of India and Co-Chair of the Joint Task Force, said, "During the last meeting of the Joint, Task Force we had decided to fast-track the negotiations of CEPA, and we finalised the agreement in unprecedented 88 days." I have no doubt that the same level of commitment will be made on both sides in future discussions on topics like food security and bilateral trade in national currencies that we had today. Relations between India and the United Arab Emirates are progressing at a rate never seen before. Numerous opportunities exist for us to work together and increase investment in vital areas like infrastructure and technology, especially Fintech.
Co-Chair of the Joint Task Force and Member of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi His Highness Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said after the meeting:
"Since the Joint Task Force's last meeting in October 2021, several significant milestones have been reached that serve to cement India and the UAE's close, growing, and strategic relationship. In this broader setting, the Joint Task Force remains a conduit for constructive communication between our two nations, allowing us to further develop the economic ties that have helped bring our countries closer together. The Joint Task Force has been instrumental in opening up new doors and removing roadblocks, and it will continue to do so as we work to encourage bilateral investment to further our respective countries' economic growth goals.
Senior officials from relevant government authorities, investment entities, and companies from both countries were in attendance, including H.E. Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE State Minister for Foreign Trade; H.E. Dr. Ahmed A.R. Albanna, UAE's Ambassador to India; H.E. Shri Anurag Jain, Secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade; and others.