India-UAE ties transcend to multilateral level in 2023

The already strong India-UAE ties transcended to a truly multilateral level in 2023 with the announcement of the strategically important India-Middle East Economic Corridor and the expansion of the BRICS grouping to include the key Gulf nation.

The bilateral ties have witnessed qualitative and quantitative progress with Prime Minister Narendra Modi giving top priority to enhance India’s relations with the UAE and its top leadership.

The BRICS summit in August, during which the UAE joined the group, and the announcement of the India-Middle East Economic Corridor (IMEEC) in New Delhi during the G20 summit in September were the highlights of the level of cooperation.

The new member nations will become part of BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) with effect from January 1, 2024. The inclusion represents a strategic step for the UAE and consolidates its global economic and diplomatic engagements.

The proposed IMEEC will comprise an eastern corridor connecting India to the Gulf region and a northern corridor connecting the Gulf region to Europe.

India will be linked to Europe by a railway line and existing ports through UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel.Throughout 2023, the India-UAE relationship saw significant advancements, especially in trade, defence, and multilateral cooperation.The India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), implemented on May 1, 2022, significantly impacted bilateral trade.

In the fiscal year 2022-23, trade between the two countries reached a historic high of around USD 84.5 billion, marking a year-on-year increase of 16 per cent.

Indian exports to the UAE also recorded remarkable growth, reaching USD 31.6 billion, a 12 per cent increase from the previous year.

The agreement eliminated duties on many tariff lines and covered many sectors, benefiting industries like oil seeds, beverages, textiles, and pharmaceuticals.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UAE in July 2023 marked his fifth visit to the country since being elected.

The visit included wide-ranging talks on bilateral relations, shared interests in promoting global growth, and further collaboration in various fields.

The leaders discussed matters of mutual interest, including international issues concerning COP28 and India’s G20 presidency.

Both countries agreed to strengthen bilateral maritime security and connectivity collaboration and enhance defence exchanges, sharing experiences, training, and capacity building.

India and the UAE reaffirmed their joint commitment to combat extremism and terrorism, including cross-border terrorism, at regional and international levels. They emphasised the importance of promoting peace, moderation, coexistence, and tolerance.

The first meeting of the joint committee under the CEPA set a target to more than double non-petroleum trade to USD 100 billion by 2030. The meeting also involved discussions on various matters related to the agreement’s implementation and addressing issues that could hinder its effectiveness.

During Prime Minister Modi’s visit, delegation-level talks focused on strengthening bilateral trade, energy, defence, and food security cooperation.

Leaders also discussed enhancing cooperation on delivering ambitious outcomes at COP28 for sustainable development.

These developments reflect a deepening and multifaceted India-UAE partnership, focusing on economic growth, security, and multilateral cooperation.

The cooperation between India and the UAE reached its pinnacle at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai.

PM Modi also visited Dubai for the 28th Session of the United Nations Framework Convention on the Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP28) hosted by the UAE. He met Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, on the sidelines of the summit and reviewed wide ranging and vibrant bilateral ties.

During the year, India and the UAE collaborated closely on addressing the global challenge of climate change.

Both countries emphasised the urgent need to address climate change through collective global action, respecting the foundational principles of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement.

They committed to enhancing cooperation on climate ambition, decarbonisation, and clean energy.

The leaders underscored the need for developed countries to fulfil their financial commitments, notably the USD 100 billion delivery plan, to support developing countries in climate action.

They urged international financial institutions and multilateral development banks to reform financial mechanisms to support climate change initiatives in developing countries.

Both countries recognised the significant impact that sustainable and environment-friendly behaviours of individuals can have on a mass scale.

They emphasised the importance of promoting awareness of sustainable lifestyles and nudging individuals towards environment-friendly choices.

Both countries also affirmed the significance of India’s G20 presidency in fostering international cooperation in combating climate change. They stressed the importance of finance and technology as critical enablers in this effort.

Overall, India and the UAE showed a united front in their determination to ensure a successful and action-oriented COP28, aiming to build new momentum for effective climate action and international cooperation.

The cooperation between India and the UAE on multilateral platforms such as the G20 and BRICS evolved significantly during 2023, marked by mutual support and collaboration.

The UAE demonstrated strong support for India’s presidency of the G20 in 2023.

This support indicates the UAE’s priority on its relationship with India, reflecting their shared interests in addressing global challenges. The UAE’s backing is crucial as India seeks to amplify and integrate the voice of the global South in the G20 agenda.

This expansion of BRICS with the UAE’s membership underscores the growing importance of emerging economies in the global order.

“The UAE is committed to multilateral action, and constructive dialogue which is fostered through active platforms that represent developing and emerging economies at an international level,” the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

“In this regard, becoming a member of an extended BRICS grouping reflects the UAE’s keenness to champion the value of multilateralism in supporting peace, and development for the benefit and the wellbeing of peoples and nations across the world,” it said.

On the other hand, as the host of the G20 summit in 2023, India invited the UAE to be a special guest. The invitation was extended during bilateral talks between the external affairs ministers of the two countries.

It highlights the strong bilateral relations and the increasing synergy between India and the UAE in international forums.

Both countries have discussed various areas of cooperation, including energy, healthcare, defence, space, and climate change.

These discussions are part of the broader cooperation in the UN Security Council and reflect their commitment to addressing global issues collaboratively.

Prime Minister Modi will again be visiting the UAE to inaugurate the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi in February next year.

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