The tenth meeting of the UAE-India High Level Joint Task Force on Investments (‘The Joint Task Force’) took place today in Mumbai. It was co-chaired by Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, and His Highness Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The Joint Task Force was established in 2013 to promote trade, investment and economic ties between the UAE and India. This was the first meeting of the Joint Task Force since the signing of the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and unveiling of the Joint UAE-India Vision Statement in February 2022 during the virtual summit between Shri. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE.
The CEPA is a major trade agreement set to transform bilateral economic, trade and investment ties and propel economic growth. Both these historic landmarks provide a clear roadmap for continued strengthening of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between the two countries at an accelerated pace.
During this tenth meeting of the Joint Task Force, the co-chairs recognized the early trends of positive impact of the historic India-UAE CEPA on bilateral trade between the two countries since it entered into force in May 2022. The co-chairs urged businessmen on both sides to gain optimal benefits from the conducive trade ecosystem created under CEPA. The co-chairs also noted progress on various aspects of the CEPA including establishment of the CEPA Joint Committee and related sub-committees.
The two delegations reviewed the status of the negotiations of the India-UAE Bilateral Investment Treaty. Twelve rounds of negotiations have been conducted till date. Both sides noted that much progress could have been achieved since the commencement of the negotiations, and therefore reiterated their commitment to accelerate the process for an early conclusion of a balanced and mutually beneficial agreement.
Discussions also took place on ways of enhancing bilateral investments in key sectors like food security, manufacturing, infrastructure, energy and technology. In this context, it was agreed that the concerned authorities in both countries will explore establishment of efficient and integrated Single Window Solutions and Virtual Trade Corridors to reduce costs and time involved in trade and investment related procedures. From the UAE side, it was agreed that the Department of Economic Development of Abu Dhabi will explore this area of cooperation with the concerned counterparties in India in order to agree a mutually beneficial implementation approach.
As a means of encouraging increased investment flows by UAE sovereign investment entities into India, the two sides reviewed UAE’s request with respect to providing tax incentives to certain UAE sovereign investment entities under existing UAE-India Tax Treaty, and India’s response to provide the same under the existing domestic tax laws of India. It was agreed that bilateral discussions should continue to reach a mutually beneficial outcome which meets the policy objectives of both countries. In this context, the support provided to UAE sovereign entities through the Finance Act 2020 and subsequent issuance of notifications for tax exemption was noted and appreciated.
An important area discussed was the creation of a mechanism for carrying out bilateral trade in national currencies. Referring to the ongoing discussions between Reserve Bank of India and Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates on Unified Payment Interface (UPI) as a common digital payments platform, both sides agreed to continue discussions.
In the positive backdrop provided by the extensive and growing trade and investment relationship between India and the UAE, the two sides acknowledged the importance of using the Joint Task Force as a forum to address specific issues and difficulties faced by the companies when investing into each other’s countries. India has set up a UAE Plus Desk in 2018 and established a Fast Track Mechanism in 2019 to identify, resolve and expedite issues faced by the UAE companies and investors in India. The UAE Special Desk in India was commended for its efforts in leading and facilitating UAE investments across sectors. In this regard, it was agreed that the Indian side will provide the necessary support to UAE Fast Track Mechanism in India to ensure speedy resolution of pending issues and difficulties experienced by a number of UAE companies and banks operating in India.
It was also agreed that a similar India Fast Track Mechanism would be set up in the UAE immediately to resolve issues pertaining to the Indian investors in the UAE, and to assist Indian companies in market entry and expansion when investing in the UAE. In this context, issues pertaining to some Indian companies in UAE were noted and it was agreed that the UAE side will provide the necessary support to ensure speedy and mutually satisfactory resolution of these issues.
Speaking at the meeting, Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, and Textiles, 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 finalized the agreement in unprecedented 88 days. I am sure that the discussions we have had today on mutually beneficial areas like food security and bilateral trade in national currencies, will also see similar thrust from both sides. The India-UAE relations are witnessing unprecedented momentum. We have a large number of opportunities for cooperation and increasing investments especially the key sectors like infrastructure and technology, especially Fintech.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, His Highness Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Co-Chair of the Joint Task Force, said:
“Since the last meeting of the Joint Task Force in October 2021, several significant milestones have been reached that serve to cement the close, growing and strategic relationship between India and the UAE. Within this broader context, the Joint Task Force continues to facilitate positive dialogue between our two countries as we strengthen the economic links that have helped to draw our nations together. The Joint Task Force has proved effective in creating new opportunities and removing barriers, and it will continue to play an important role in promoting bilateral investment in support of our respective countries’ growth ambitions.”
The meeting was attended by 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 senior officials from relevant government authorities, investment entities and companies from both countries.