India, which is negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, on Tuesday made a strong pitch for greater investment from the UAE, asking the oil-rich country to be a part of its growth story, especially in the infrastructure sector.
“India is an attractive destination for foreign investment. Therefore, it is only natural that we expect Abu Dhabi... to have a significant presence in the Indian economy,” President Pratibha Patil said, addressing a function organised by the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority manages one of the largest sovereign funds in the world, financial reserves and investment.
The strong fundamentals of Indian economy combined with a young population will continue to generate huge demand in every economic sector in India, especially in the area of infrastructure, Ms. Patil told the meeting, which was also attended by UAE Minister for Foreign Trade Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi.
India and the UAE are the largest trading partners with a turnover of USD 43 billion and the Gulf country is also home to the largest expatriate Indian community numbering 1.75 million.
“It is only natural that we expect Abu Dhabi, being home to some of the largest sovereign funds in the world, to have a significant presence in the Indian economy,” said Ms. Patil, who is here on a five-day official visit.
India has embarked on an ambitious programme of disinvestment in its public sector undertakings and has a huge requirement for developing basic infrastructure like roads and ports, power generation and communications, among others, she noted.
“There are also a large number of Special Economic Zones in India that beckon UAE investors,” said the President.
She hoped that the Chamber will prove to be a catalyst in enhancing not only bilateral trade links, but also the more enduring partnership in long term investment and participation in each other’s developmental efforts.
Besides, the President said there was a need for reactivating the India-UAE Joint Business Council and increasing the frequency of exchanges between apex chambers of commerce and industry.
She said India has already started negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and “we are hopeful of finalising it in the near future.”
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE are the members of the GCC.
Sheikha Lubna, the first woman to get a ministerial position in the UAE, called for joint ventures in information and communication technology between the two countries.
She also wanted the two countries to cooperate in the small and medium industries’ sector.
Noting that Abu Dhabi had invested USD 1.5 billion in India last year, the UAE minister said the bilateral relations have yielded “outstanding results” and the two countries should utilise all available opportunities to seek greater heights.