NEW DELHI: India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Tuesday signed eight pacts to bolster cooperation in key areas such as investments, electricity trade and digital payment platforms, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan discussed new fields of collaboration.
PM Modi, who arrived in Abu Dhabi on the first leg of a two-nation tour that will also take him to Qatar, reviewed the bilateral partnership and discussed regional and global issues with Mohamed bin Zayed. The UAE is one of India’s closest strategic and energy partners in West Asia, and trade was boosted by the signing of a free trade agreement (FTA) in 2022.
In a special gesture, Modi was received at the airport by Mohamed bin Zayed and accorded a ceremonial welcome.
At their subsequent meeting, the leaders witnessed the exchange of eight agreements, including a bilateral investment treaty, which the external affairs ministry said, will be a “key enabler” for further investments in both countries.
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Modi, in his remarks at the meeting, referred to the UAE leader popularly known as MBZ as his “brother” and said he feels as if he has come to his own home and is meeting members of his family whenever he visits the Emirates. The two leaders have met five times in the past seven months, and this is Modi’s seventh visit to the UAE.
He referred to Mohamed bin Zayed’s closeness to India and his vision for a bright future for the UAE and said this was reflected in the construction of the BAPS Mandir in Abu Dhabi, which Modi is set to inaugurate on Wednesday. “Without your cooperation, this wouldn’t have been possible,” he said, speaking in Hindi.
Modi thanked the UAE president for his personal support and graciousness in granting land for the first Hindu temple in Abu Dhabi. Both sides described BAPS Mandir as a “celebration” of the UAE-India friendship and an embodiment of the emirates’ commitment to harmony and tolerance.
India and the UAE have a close partnership in every field, and the linking of digital payment systems of the two sides will open a new era in fintech, while the bilateral investment treaty will have a long-lasting impact, Modi said.
The bilateral investment treaty with the UAE is a follow-up to the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement or FTA, which entered into force in May 2022 and eliminated duties on 99% of the UAE’s imports from India.
A new memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in electrical interconnection and trade will open up new areas of collaboration in energy, including energy security.
The two sides signed separate agreements for linking their instant payment platforms – India’s Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and the UAE’s AANI – and their domestic debit and credit cards, India’s RuPay with the UAE’s Jaywan.
Modi congratulated Mohamed bin Zayed on the launch of Jaywan, which is based on the digital RuPay credit and debit card stack. The leaders witnessed a transaction using the Jaywan card.
The linking of digital payment systems will facilitate seamless cross-border transactions, and this follows another MoU on linking payment and messaging systems in July 2023. The linking of debit and credit cards will build financial sector cooperation and enhance RuPay’s acceptance in the UAE.
Another MoU on digital infrastructure projects will create a framework for wide-ranging cooperation, including investments in digital infrastructure and the sharing of technical knowledge and expertise.
India and the UAE also signed an inter-governmental framework agreement on the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) to build on earlier understandings and foster cooperation for regional connectivity.
Modi referred to MBZ’s work to take forward IMEC and said: “This will not only help connect the whole region but will open new doors for economic development.”
Two more agreements will enhance cooperation between the national archives of the two sides, including restoration and preservation of archival material, and in the field of heritage and museums.
During their one-on-one and delegation-level talks, Modi and Mohamed bin Zayed reviewed the bilateral partnership and discussed new areas of cooperation, the external affairs ministry said in a statement. They welcomed the deepening of the comprehensive strategic partnership across sectors such as trade, investment, digital infrastructure, fintech, energy, infrastructure and people-to-people ties.
They discussed the strengthening of the energy partnership and appreciated that in addition to the UAE
being among the largest sources of crude oil and LPG, India is now entering into long-term contracts for LNG.
Ahead of Modi’s visit, India’s state-run RITES Limited and the Gujarat Maritime Board signed separate agreements with Abu Dhabi Ports Company for building port infrastructure and enhancing connectivity between the two countries.
Before his departure, Modi said India has strengthened and deepened its cooperation with the UAE and Qatar in numerous areas, including trade and investment, energy security and defence. Following his visit to the UAE during February 13-14, Modi will travel to Qatar during February 14-15.
At the invitation of the UAE vice president and ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Modi will address a gathering of world leaders at the World Government Summit on Wednesday.
The trip to Qatar, Modi’s second since 2014, comes soon after the country’s emir on Sunday ordered the release of eight former Indian Navy personnel who had been given lengthy prison sentences after being detained for alleged involvement in espionage.
In Qatar, Modi will meet the emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and other dignitaries. Qatar is home to 800,000 Indian nationals, while another 3.5 million Indians live in the UAE.