President of the United Arab Emirates His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Prime Minister of India, H.E. Mr. Narendra Modi met in Abu Dhabi on 15 July 2023.
Both sides noted that this was the fifth visit of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to the UAE in the last eight years. Prime Minister Modi last visited the UAE in June 2022 when he visited Abu Dhabi to meet HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to convey his greetings as His Highness assumed the presidency of the UAE. In 2015, Prime Minister Modi became the first Prime Minister of India to visit the UAE in 34 years. This visit was followed by the visit of HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to India in 2016, then in 2017, when HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was the Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations. Moreover, the India-UAE relationship was formally elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during the visit of HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to India in 2017.
The leaders expressed satisfaction that UAE-India relations have witnessed tremendous progress on all fronts. India-UAE trade rose to USD 85 billion in 2022, making the UAE India’s third-largest trading partner for the year 2022-23 and India’s second-largest export destination. India is the UAE’s second largest trading partner. In February 2022, India became the first country with which the UAE signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). Bilateral trade has increased by approximately 15% since the entry into force of the CEPA on 1 May 2022.
The leaders noted the significant global roles played by both countries in 2023, with India’s presidency of the G20 and the UAE’s presidency of COP28. The UAE side appreciated the hosting of the Voice of Global South Summit by India in January 2023. The Indian side also commended the UAE for its instrumental role in promoting the Global South’s interests at COP28 and making COP28 a “COP of action.” Both sides also looked forward to further cooperation in plurilateral fora such as I2U2 and the UAE-France-India trilateral cooperation initiative. They noted that such platforms provide greater opportunities for both countries to elevate the partnership to new heights.
In Abu Dhabi, the President of the UAE HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi witnessed the following: I. The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment of a framework to promote the use of local currencies (INR-AED) for cross-border transactions by Governors of the respective Central Banks.
II. The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on interlinking payment and messaging systems by Governors of the respective Central Banks.
III. The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for planning to establish Indian Institute of Technology – Delhi in Abu Dhabi.
The leaders discussed that developing the Local Currency Settlement System between the two countries to settle bilateral trade is a reflection of mutual confidence. Moreover, it underlines the robustness of the economies in both countries and enhances the economic engagement between the UAE and India. The leaders expressed their interest in strengthening cooperation in the payment systems area by enabling integration between their instant payment systems to process cross-border transactions between the UAE and India more efficiently. Such cooperation will also include the mutual acceptance of domestic card schemes by interlinking national card switches. Integration between these systems will enhance access to payment services for the benefit of the citizens and residents of the two countries.
The leaders reiterated their resolve to further strengthen investment ties between the two countries. In this context, they appreciated the efforts of the bilateral High-Level Joint Task Force of Investments. They acknowledged that the UAE became the fourth largest investor in India in 2022-2023, compared to the seventh in 2021-2022. They appreciated the plan of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) to set up a presence in Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City), a financial free zone in Gujarat, in the next few months. This will further facilitate investment opportunities for the UAE in India.
The leaders also discussed the significance of the tripartite MoU between the Ministry of Education of India, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Delhi) and Abu Dhabi Department of Education & Knowledge (ADEK) for the establishment of IIT Delhi – Abu Dhabi. In February last year, during the Virtual Summit between the two leaders, they agreed to establish the Indian Institute of Technology in the UAE. Both sides have worked tirelessly over the past two years to make this vision a reality. The two leaders expressed their endorsement and approval that IIT Delhi – Abu Dhabi will become operational by January 2024 by offering a Master’s program in Energy Transition and Sustainability. Other Bachelor, Master’s and Ph.D. Level programs are expected to be offered from September 2024, in addition to establishing research centers in the fields of sustainable energy, climate studies, computing, and data sciences.
The leaders resolved to further enhance bilateral partnership in the energy field, both in oil, gas, and renewable energy. Both sides will take forward their cooperation in Green Hydrogen, solar energy and grid connectivity. Both sides also agreed to increase investment across the energy spectrum, including in India’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve Programme.
The leaders acknowledged the joint work on issues of climate change, particularly during India’s presidency of the G20 and the UAE’s presidency of COP28. They resolved to work together to make COP28 a success for all.
The leaders noted that people-to-people contacts, which date back centuries, are one of the strongest and most important pillars of the historic India-UAE ties. The UAE expressed appreciation that the large Indian diaspora continues to play a significant role in the society and economy of the UAE and further reinforces bilateral relations.
The leaders agreed to further strengthen bilateral collaboration to strengthen maritime security and connectivity in the region to promote prosperity in India, the UAE, and the shared neighborhood. They also agreed to enhance defense exchanges, sharing of experiences, training, and capacity building.
Prime Minister Modi thanked HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his warm hospitality to his delegation. Prime Minister Modi is looking forward to the participation of HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in the G20 Leaders’ Summit on 9-10 September 2023 in New Delhi.
Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthening the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, exploring emerging areas of collaboration, and promoting peace, stability, and prosperity in the region and beyond.