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In News:

  • Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister of India, arrived in Abu Dhabi for a two-day official visit. She is leading a delegation of senior officials to the UAE to co-chair the 12th session of the India-UAE Joint Commission Meeting for Economic and Technical Cooperation with Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, according to a press release issued by the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
  • Shaikh Abdullah and Swaraj will inaugurate the Gandhi-Zayed Digital Museum to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • India and UAE signed landmark deals during the visit which are
  • Currency Swap Agreement:
  • India and the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday signed a currency swap agreement to boost investment and enable direct trade without using dollars or other international currencies.
  • The swap is for 200 crore dirhams or Rs. 3,500 crore ($496 million), depending on which central bank requests the amount. Bilateral trade between the two countries stood at around $52 billion in 2017, according to figures from the Indian embassy in the UAE.

Developmental Projects in Africa:

  • The UAE has agreed to collaborate with India to launch joint aid projects in Africa. The first step will be the establishment of an IT centre of excellence in Ethiopia.
  • The project will rely on Indian expertise in the area as well as funding from the UAE. It will be only the second partnership deal India has agreed with a ‘third country’ in Africa, the other being an agreement with Japan.

Past Initiatives to strengthen the bilateral relationship:

  • India and the UAE enjoy strong friendship based on age-old cultural, religious and economic ties between the two nations. The UAE occupies a key place in India’s West Asia policy. India and UAE have elevated their relationship to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement and have moved beyond just buyer-seller relationship.
  • Lately there have been various official visits between the two countries like the Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was invited as chief guest for Republic Day. Indian Prime Minister was the guest of the honor at World Government Summit held at Dubai.

Significance of India UAE relationship:

  • UAE is the 5th largest import source and accounts for about 6% of our total crude imports. Agreements signed related to energy security between the countries including the filling up of a strategic petroleum reserve Mangalore.
  • The UAE government has committed USD 75 billion towards developing Indian infrastructure. The NIIF entered into an agreement with a Dubai based firm for investment up to USD 3 billion.
  • Bilateral trade with UAE stood at around USD 50 billion last year with UAE’s investments in India in areas ranging from smart cities to real estate.
  • Indian Community- More than 2.5 million Indians live in the UAE, which is among the largest number of expatriates anywhere in the world, repatriating $13.6 billion a year to India.
  • Shared Security Concern- The two countries have a common interest in ensuing maritime security in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf region. Further, given the current state of flux in West Asia, India sees the UAE as an important partner to maintain peace and stability in the region.
  • Defense exercises are increasingly undertaken. For example, Desert Eagle II a ten-day air combat exercise, was held between the air forces of India and UAE.
  • Maritime security- India approved the bilateral pact on maritime education and training and a MoU to facilitate and promote maritime transport, simplification of customs and facilitation of use of existing installations for the disposal of waste.

Obstacles in realizing full Potential:

  • Slow implementation process of various projects from Indian side is a major obstacle.
  • Lack of clarity in many aspects of commercial regulations, labor laws and lack of transparency on part of Emirati businesses.
  • There is also a need to smoothen problems faced by Indian migrants due to cumbersome and strict regulations.

Way Forward:

  • The growing engagements between India and the UAE has to be seen within the broader contexts of UAE’s policy of engaging with Asia to improve economic prospects and India’s search for foreign investments to expedite economic growth and address the threat of extremism and terrorism.
  • In the areas of medical tourism, renewable energy, higher education and defense sector India and UAE can tap into further opportunities and untapped potential, and give new impetus to Strategic Partnership.

Check Your Understanding:

  • The growing synergy between India and the UAE is a testimony to the economic and strategic importance of this region for India. Elucidate.
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