Could partly offset declining purchases from Iran

India and the United Arab Emirates on Friday discussed the prospects of closer energy ties including more import of oil, which could partly offset declining purchases from Iran, and investment in the downstream sector such as refineries.

While visiting External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his visiting UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan discussed investments in India, officials met on a parallel track to build on last year's 16 per cent increase in import of crude from UAE principalities.

Joint task force set up

The main outcome of the Ministerial meeting was the setting up of a joint task force headed by Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and high-ranking UAE official Sheikh Hamad. India is looking for half out of investment potential of $one trillion in India over the next five years. “We would very much like to see a strong UAE presence in that,” said Mr. Krishna.

In a separate meeting, officials looked at the possibility of stepping up oil imports. Last year, India imported 14 million tonnes of oil which was an increase from the 12 million tonnes in the previous year.

‘Trend may not continue'

“In the UAE, we have a dependable supplier of oil which India needs so badly. It is likely that this trend of the UAE continuing to meet our needs of energy security will be maintained,” said Mr. Krishna. On the investment front, Indian officials will clarify doubts related to the investment climate during meetings next week in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Of the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries, India is the closest to the UAE in several respects although it has revived or built closer ties in recent times with Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar. About one-third of 60 lakh “Gulf” Indians expatriates work in the UAE, it is the fourth largest supplier of oil to India and bilateral trade has crossed $50 billion.

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