UAE set to play Key Role in India’s $5-trillion Economy: UAE Undersecretary for Foreign Trade

Undersecretary for Foreign Trade, UAE Ministry of Economy
His Excellency Abdulla A. Al Saleh, Undersecretary for Foreign Trade, UAE Ministry of Economy

The 5th Edition of the UAE India Economic Forum organised by Business Live ME, saw industry leaders engage in dialogue to further bilateral ties through trade, investments, job creation, and remittances.

The Keynote Speech was delivered by His Excellency Abdulla A. Al Saleh, Undersecretary for Foreign Trade, UAE Ministry of Economy.


It is indeed a great honour to be present at the UAE – India Economic Forum today.

I would like to commence by emphasizing the importance of this event. On behalf of the Ministry of Economy, I would like to extend our appreciation to the organizers for putting together such an impressive event.

Today, we, together, set the stage to highlight the weight of the strong bilateral ties between the UAE and India.

India has been always historically a very important partner for the UAE. UAE’s relations with India are built on a very strong foundations of social, economic and cultural ties.  

Our strong ties are the result of the political will be articulated by both governments and their sustained efforts to work together for the mutual benefit of our people.

The relationship between the UAE and India has flourished over decades and more recently transformed into a comprehensive strategic partnership committing both countries to expanding their collaboration across new avenues. 

We have several agreements covering various key sectors, such as civil aviation, investment protection, avoiding double taxation, industry, security, organized and cross-border crime, customs, to name a few.

With an economy of US $2.8 trillion (ca. AED 10.3 trillion), India is the fastest-growing major economy of the world and is on the path to becoming a US $5-trillion (ca. AED 18.4 trillion) economy by 2022. 

As you may know, UAE is the largest Arab investor country in India, accounting for 81.2% of total Arab investments. UAE investments into India are estimated to be around USD 10 billion including foreign direct investment of almost USD 5 billion. 

The UAE hosts the largest Indian community overseas, with more than 2.6 million Indians living and working in the UAE. Their annual remittances are estimated to be more than US$17 billion which is 38% of the total outflow this is a strong evidence of the ever-growing robust bilateral ties and vital mutual interests.

As both countries remain keen as ever to strengthen the trade dialogue, recently, an ambitious project — the India – UAE food corridor – was launched with the plan to benefit two million farmers and create an additional 200,000 jobs across India, due to cumulative investments of more than US $7 billion (ca. AED 18.4 billion) by the UAE in the next three years .

In light of UAE’s friendly business environment, according to the ‘World Investment Report 2018’ by the UN Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD, the FDI to the UAE rose by 8% to US $10.4 billion (ca. AED 38.2 billion) in part due to rising cross-border mergers and acquisitions sales, making the country the largest source of FDI in 2017 for the Arab region (at 36 percent of total FDI inflow). 

India is UAE’s second largest trade partner today and the UAE has become India’s third largest trading partner, with the total non-oil trade between the two countries recorded at US $35.9 billion (ca. AED 131.9 billion) in 2018.

Owing to our respective progressive economies and world-class infrastructure, both India and the UAE are attracting significant attention in terms of investments.

India’s partnership with the UAE is set to play a key role in its march towards its ambitious goal of becoming a US $5-trillion economy. 2019 also witnessed the seventh meeting of the UAE-India High Level Joint Task Force on Investments, which is a platform to communicate our mutual requirements and vision for the future, and has played a key role in boosting bilateral investments and cooperation.

In fact, in addition, the consecutive visits of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to India, in 2016 and 2017 and of Prime Minister Modi to the UAE in 2015, 2018 and most recently in August 2019, have invigorated the momentum of our partnership to a new strategic level.

I would like to seize this opportunity and my presence at this Forum to name but a few examples of areas of promising collaborations between our respective nations: 

First: Infrastructure development in India

UAE unveiled plans to invest US $75 billion (ca. AED 275.5 billion) in infrastructure development across India,

Second: India-UAE Artificial Intelligence Bridge MoU:

while both countries are now working closely together to utilize advanced technologies such as block chain and artificial intelligence to create mutual benefits and economic growth. There is a great deal of interest among UAE-based companies to explore new business opportunities in India. 

In light of this collaboration spirit, last year, both countries have signed a “India-UAE Artificial Intelligence Bridge” MoU, which is expected to generate an estimated US $20 billion (ca. AED 73.5 billion) in economic benefits during the next decade for both nations.

Such efforts are strong manifestation on how keen and how determined the UAE and India are on harnessing their mutual potentials across common areas of interest.  

Third: Currency swap agreement

In 2018, UAE and India further strengthened their relationship by signing a currency swap agreement for US $500 million (ca. AED 1.8 trillion) to boost trade and investment.  As you know, under this agreement, both countries can make payments in their respective currency without the involvement of a third currency like the US Dollar. 

Fourth: India’s participation at Dubai Expo 2020

With Expo 2020 around the corner, we will witness India’s commitment with one of the largest pavilions, which is a testament to the value the country puts to promoting bilateral economic relations.

The theme of the pavilion, ‘Future is in India’, will highlight India, and stories of contemporary success in economy and space. In addition, the best of Indian culture, tradition and tourism will come alive at the pavilion.

Through its strategic location and excellent multimodal connectivity, UAE seamlessly connects India’s exports fro to new frontiers.

The UAE appreciates India and the resident Indian community in the UAE for actively contributing to the UAE’s progress.

On this note, and before I conclude, I would like to stress the importance of reaping benefits from concerted efforts of and the identified synergies between both nations.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you and the organizers, all again, and wish you all a fruitful time over the course of this Forum.

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