India and the UAE are expected to announce more than a dozen agreements as they spell out their strategic partnership on Wednesday, including an MoU on the proposed $75- billion UAE sovereign wealth fund investment in Indian infrastructure that has been hanging fire for 18 months.
The agreements to be signed after bilateral talks between the visiting UAE crown prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will include MoUs on investment, strategic partnership on oil and energy, defence manufacturing and purchases, officials said here on Monday.
A joint vision statement from Mr. Modi and the Crown Prince is also expected to be released. “Both leaders have invested a lot of personal time and energy,” secretary Economic Relations, Amar Sinha told journalists ahead of the visit.
For the second time since Mohammad Bin Zayed visited in February 2016, Mr. Modi went to the airport to receive him, exchanging embraces with him on the tarmac. This is the first time India has hosted a non-head of state or government in 50 years, making a rare exception for the UAE leader.
Responding to a tweet from Mr. Modi on Wednesday night, Prince Mohammad Bin Zayed wrote that the UAE “views India as a linchpin of stability and security in the Asian continent”, adding that the future would see “breakthroughs” in the strategic partnership
During Mr. Modi’s visit to Abu Dhabi in August 2015, the two sides announced a plan to create a mechanism in India to facilitate the investment of “up to” $75 billion over a period of 10 years from UAE.
The decision to set up the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) was announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Union Budget 2015-16 and was subsequently approved by the Cabinet in July 2015. Even so, UAE officials said the project was delayed as the Indian side failed to revert on their questions on administering the fund, for more than a year.
“We were awaiting a response from the Indian side for the terms and rules which would be applied before the creation of this fund, ” UAE Ambassador to India Ahmed Al Banna told The Hindu earlier this month. Admitting the delays due to the fact the NIIF didn’t even have a CEO until October 2016, the MEA sources hoped all the loose ends would be tied up on Wednesday after talks.