India and the UAE have launched formal trade negotiations aimed at concluding discussions on an early harvest agreement by December 2021 and sign a formal agreement in early 2022. The aim is to boost bilateral merchandise trade to above $100 billion and services trade to $15 billion in five years.
India is also aiming to sign free trade agreements with Australia, UK and the European Union in the near future. Early harvest agreements are used to liberalise tariffs on the trade of certain goods between two countries or trading blocs before a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is concluded.
Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal and UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi announced that formal negotiations for the India–United Arab Emirates Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) would start on Thursday. Goyal said India would aim to get access for Indian textiles, gems and jewellery, footwear and handicrafts as part of the early harvest agreement. “Both sides have drawn up a very aggressive and ambitious timeframe, and aim to conclude negotiations by December 2021itself,” said Goyal adding that both sides aimed to sign a formal agreement in early 2022 after the completion of internal procedures and necessary ratification processes. Goyal added that negotiations on the CEPA would continue post the signing of the early harvest agreement.
The UAE would focus on areas such as fintech, petrochemical equipment and byproducts in the early harvest agreement, Al Zeyoudi said.