Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy participated in a session titled “Is Minilateralism the Future of Global Trade?” as part of the annual Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) conference 2023 held in New Delhi on 24-25 May.

The session was attended by Sanjeev Bajaj, President of CII; Chandragit Banerjee, Director-General of CII; and a number of UAE and Indian companies, global investors and businessmen.

The session discussed an array of topics including the latest economic policies in global trade and the importance of regional and trade agreements in enhancing the future of global trade. In addition, it took a closer look at the methods adopted by free trade agreement to transform global value chains, apart from the means to enhance and facilitate market reach for importers and exporters.

Al Marri said, “The UAE-India partnership is a driver for economic growth that creates trade and investment opportunities for over 3.8 billion people. Our solid economic partnership contributes to the vitality of trade and investment flows in South Asia and through it towards regional and global markets.”

He added, “The two countries are accelerating efforts, hand in hand, to develop our economies and adopt plans, strategies, and initiatives that support our visions for expansion and investment in the new economy sectors. Through this important economic event, we look forward to enhancing bilateral trade with India in the fields of technology, digital payments, innovation, green energy, healthcare, communication, logistics, transport, waste management, and space technology."

“The two countries’ economies were among the fastest growing in the world in 2022, characterised by a fast pace of economic growth. The UAE economy grew by 7.6 percent last year, and according to the World Bank estimates, the Indian economy’s GDP achieved a yearly growth of 7.7 percent in the first nine months of the fiscal year 2022-2023. This indicates the number of economic opportunities that are available in our markets, encouraging the UAE and Indian private sectors to seize this opportunity to further the prospering economic partnership between the two countries,” he continued.

Moreover, Al Marri emphasised that the UAE and India present a unique comprehensive economic partnership model to the world, building on the strength of the historical and strategic relations between our two countries. “This progress can also be attributed to the forward-looking vision of both leaderships and their continuous support to enhancing the prospects for economic and trade collaboration in various priority fields.”

He added that the UAE is keen to support the Indian government’s vision to raise the Indian economy’s GDP to US$5 trillion by the year 2025, as well as its future expansion plans in the multilateral trading system.

The Minister of Economy stated, “The CEPA signed between the two countries in February 2022 achieved positive results. It played a vital role in enhancing trade exchanges, facilitating investment flows and creating more opportunities and capabilities for exporters and importers in both markets. The agreement has enabled advantages like an open and non-discriminatory environment for cross-border trade with India, and the abolition of customs tariffs on more than 80 percent of UAE and Indian goods. It also enhanced the access of service providers to markets across 11 main sectors and more than 100 sub-sectors including digital trade and intellectual property rights, creating job opportunities in many sectors and economic activities.”

Al Marri highlighted that the non-oil foreign trade between the two countries grew by 24.7 percent in Q1 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. Apart from that, the UAE’s non-oil exports to Indian markets grew by 33 percent, while trade amounted to about AED180 billion (US$49 billion), up 10 percent from 2021.

“The UAE has an ambitious vision to enhance economic openness to the world and to build global trade partnerships with strategic markets. We support the multilateral trading system as a basic driver to achieve sustainable economic development. In September 2021, the UAE launched the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements Program, through which, four partnerships have been signed so far, with India, Israel, Indonesia, and Turkiye. We will sign more partnerships with other markets during the next stage in a way that supports the objectives of the ‘We the UAE 2031’ vision, which aims to raise our GDP to AED3 trillion, increase non-oil exports to AED800 billion, and foreign trade to AED4 trillion," he explained.

Moreover, The Minister of Economy noted that the UAE's upcoming hosting of the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference in the first quarter of 2024 in Abu Dhabi will enhance the country’s contributions to stimulating international trade, which is key to achieving long-term sustainable growth. “It also affirms the country's belief in pluralism and its commitment to creating new opportunities for exporters, manufacturers, and investors.”

He explained that regional and bilateral trade agreements contribute to accelerating the growth of global trade, facilitating access to markets and the integration of companies into global value chains and boosting investment flows.

Al Marri elaborated on several economic policies and measures adopted by the UAE to enhance the trade, investment, and business environment, enhance economic openness to the world, establish international trade partnerships, support the competitiveness of the economic legislative environment, and enhance the UAE's attractiveness to FDI. He also reviewed the strong results achieved by the UAE economy in 2022, most notably the growth of the GDP by 7.6 percent and the non-oil foreign trade exceeding AED2.2 trillion for the first time in its history with a 17 percent growth. He added that the UAE also attracted AED20.7 billion in FDI in 2021, with a growth rate of 4 percent compared to 2020, and as a result, the UAE ranked first in West Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.

The CII Annual Conference 2023 was held under the theme “Future Frontiers: Competitiveness, Technology, Sustainability, and Internationalisation.” It brought together global thought leaders and Indian industry experts to advance intensive dialogue on macroeconomic developments, growth, reforms, the investment climate, the future of multiple areas of importance to the global and Indian economy, digital technologies and innovation, green energy and green supply chains, and new global opportunities. The conference coincides with the India’s presidency of the G20 international forum in 2023 in New Delhi.

CII is a non-governmental organisation with nearly 9,000 members from the government and private sectors. It has 62 offices, including 10 centers of excellence in India and eight overseas offices in Australia, Egypt, Germany, Indonesia, Singapore, UAE, United Kingdom and America, in addition to institutional partnerships with 350 representative organizations of the confederation in 133 countries.