Dubai aims to increase non-oil trade with India to Dh110 billion from the existing Dh99 billion over the next couple of years, said a senior official.

"We have set new targets that I am confident we can achieve with the support of our India office and local partners. Our first target is to boost Dubai-India non-oil trade by five per cent over the next two years from the current Dh99 billion. We also aim to increase the number of Indian companies registering with Dubai Chamber by seven per cent within the same timeframe," said Hamad Buamim, president and CEO, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Non-oil trade between Dubai and India has been increasing steadily in recent years, reaching Dh99 billion in 2017, representing 7.6 per cent of Dubai's total non-oil foreign trade for the same year. The value of Dubai Chamber members exports and re-exports to India amounted to Dh3 billion during the first half of 2018.

Non-oil bilateral trade between Dubai and India will reach nearly Dh110 billion if it grows at five per cent per annum over the next two years.

"Our representative office in Mumbai, which was opened earlier this month, is focusing on identifying new business opportunities in the Indian market for Chamber members, attracting Indian companies to Dubai and expanding bilateral trade and investment. We plan to attract more Indian companies to Dubai that can contribute to Dubai's economic growth, development plans and competitiveness," Buamim told Khaleej Times.

Buamim sees plenty of scope in key sectors such as infrastructure, logistics, commodities, IT, manufacturing, urban planning, retail, hospitality, real estate and banking sectors.

"Currently, jewellery and precious stones account for more than half of Dubai-India non-oil trade, followed by copper wires, base metals and polymers while Dubai's major imports from India include live animals, animal products, vegetables, food and tobacco products, plastics, rubber, chemicals, timber and ceramics products. With Diwali and Indian wedding season round the corner, we expect the exports of jewellery to further increase in the second half of the year," he said.

2nd office in India

Dubai Chamber is planning to open another office in India to help the business community here in the emirate to cash in on the opportunities arising in the Indian market.

"In fact, we are considering plans to open a second office in India in the near future to cater to our members' growing interest in the market. We are looking at regions in India that can complement Dubai's economy and business community," Buamim said.

"India offers tremendous trade and investment potential as it expands its infrastructure and diversifies its economy. Dubai-based companies have the right level of expertise and investment to fill market gaps in the country and support its economic growth," he added.

Vijay Valecha, chief market analyst at Century Financial Brokers, said that the UAE-India relationship has entered into a dynamic phase with the total bilateral trade on track to surpass $100 billion by 2020.

In 2017, trade between the UAE and India reached Dh194.5 billion, of which Dh128.5 billion was non-oil trade.

"As world's sixth largest economy, India is certainly an engine of growth that presents tremendous business potential and Dubai is taking the requisite steps to tap onto these opportunities. Moreover, the breakthrough agreement between the UAE and India enabling businesses to transact directly in their respective currencies, independent of the dollar - is a significant step in further increasing bilateral trade, which is on track to hit $100 billion by 2020," Valecha added.

He said there are currently plans in place to boost UAE-India trade by 60 per cent over the next five years and there are plethora of opportunities to expand the current scope of trade between the UAE and India, especially in the areas of infrastructure, food processing, water, and pharmaceuticals.

Monica Malik, chief economist, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, said India's macroeconomic outlook remains solid and there is a good momentum in the country's economic growth and fiscal policies.

Stressing that outlook is positive for bilateral non-oil trade between the UAE and India, she pointed out that hydrocarbon, petrochemical, real estate and other key non-oil sectors could see more investments between the two nations.

Focus on SMEs

The number of Indian companies registered with Dubai Chamber increased from 27,717 in 2015 to 38,238 in the first half of 2018, marking a growth rate of 38 per cent.

Buamim noted that as many large and multinational Indian companies already enjoy a strong presence in Dubai. Dubai is now focusing on attracting more SMEs and startups from India that are keen to set up in Dubai and leverage the emirate as a strategic hub to expand their presence in new markets.

"Much like Dubai, SMEs in India are among the main drivers of economic growth and the success of this sector is crucial. Through our office and trade missions to India, we hope to build new bridges between the Indian and UAE business communities and lay the groundwork for long lasting partnerships. Expo 2020 will provide Indian companies with an ideal platform to boost their global profile and showcase their capabilities on the world stage," he said.


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