India, UAE likely to sign comprehensive trade pact on Friday

India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are likely to sign a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) on Friday during a virtual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan.

Making an announcement on the summit, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said both leaders are expected to lay out their visions for the historic and friendly bilateral ties, at a time when India is celebrating 75 years of independence and the UAE marks 50th anniversary of its foundation. It said Modi and Al Nahyan, who is also the deputy supreme commander of the UAE armed forces, will discuss bilateral cooperation and exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual interest.

The MEA said the UAE is India’s third-largest trade partner, and bilateral trade and investment ties are expected to see significant enhancements.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan, will hold a Virtual Summit on February 18,” the MEA said. “A major initiative in bilateral relations is the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). Negotiations for CEPA were launched in September 2021 and have been completed.”

“The agreement will take India-UAE economic and commercial engagement to the next level,” it added. The CEPA is likely to include areas like trade, investment, goods and services.

“Both sides have collaborated closely during the Covid-19 pandemic in critical areas of healthcare and food security. Bilateral trade, investment and energy relations have remained robust,” the MEA said in a statement. “The two sides are also strengthening their cooperation in new areas of renewable energy, start-ups, fintech, etc.”

India is participating with one of the largest pavilions in the Dubai Expo 2020. In recent years, bilateral relations between India and the UAE have strengthened in all areas, and both sides have embarked upon a comprehensive strategic partnership, the MEA said.

Modi visited the UAE in 2015, 2018 and 2019 while the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi visited India in 2016 and 2017.

Ministerial visits between the two sides have also continued, including three visits of the External Affairs Minister and a visit of the Commerce and Industry Minister to the UAE in 2021. The UAE is also home to over 3.3 million Indians who play a key role in overall cultural and people-to-people ties between the two sides.

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