India, UAE to set up joint business council

New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UAE last month, India’s historic ties with the Gulf nation are poised to go to a new level with the setting up of a joint business council (JBC) later on Thursday.

The announcement was made by secretary in the external affairs ministry Anil Wadhwa at the India-UAE business meet jointly organised by the ministry and the Confederation of Indian Industry that is currently underway here.

“India and the UAE will sign an agreement later in the day for setting up a joint business council for stronger economic ties and growth of bilateral business,” Wadhwa said.

“Also, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry will sign a memorandum of understanding with the UAE Chambers of Commerce to provide institutional support for promoting business opportunities,” he said.

The foreign service official said that India is looking to attract investments from the United Arab Emirates to the extent of $75 billion through the mechanism of a UAE-India Investment Fund.

Pointing out that the bilateral trade of around $60 billion annually had the potential to double, UAE Minister of State Reem Ibrahim Al Hashimi said the fact that 1,000 flights per week connect both countries demonstrates the intensity of the relationship.

“The UAE leadership is committed to take our bilateral relationship to a new level of strategic co-operation,” she said.

Al Hashimi is part of a high level delegation led by UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdulla Bin Zayed Al Nahyan visiting here as a follow up to Modi’s trip to the Gulf country, which was the first after Indira Gandhi’s in 1981.

UAE has an important place in India’s energy security as the sixth largest import-source of crude oil in 2014-15.

Bilateral trade has grown significantly from a level of $180 million in the 1970s to around $60 billion per annum now, making the UAE India’s third-largest trading partner for 2014-15 after China and the US.

Modi’s visit also had the focus on attracting investment by the UAE’s massive oil-financed sovereign wealth fund that for Abu Dhabi is reported to be worth over $800 billion.

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