Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be looking to get the UAE to invest from its $800-billion sovereign wealth fund in Indian infrastructure when he visits the country on August 16 on a two-day trip. New Delhi will also be looking at boosting oil trade with UAE since the global crude oil prices are trading at around $50 per barrel, significantly lower than the level a year ago.
Apart from economic ties, an important aim will be to request the UAE’s royal and political leadership to utilise its resources in Iraq so that the 39 Indians are released from the captivity of the Islamic State (IS). External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has already spoken to her counterpart in the UAE to mobilise their assets.
Modi will also be attending two public events — one for Indian workers in Abu Dhabi and another for the Indian expatriate community in Dubai. The Dubai event will be held in a cricket stadium with a capacity of 50,000 people. The Indian population in UAE is over 2.6 million.
Officials said Modi would meet the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is also Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. He will also meet UAE’s Vice-President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum among other top leaders.
Sources said economic and commercial cooperation with the UAE is a key aspect of the overall bilateral relationship.
“The Abu Dhabi Development Authority has a sovereign wealth fund of $800 billion. So far, they have only looked at the US and the European Union. We would be interested in getting them to invest in our infrastructure projects,” a source said.
The traditionally close India-UAE bilateral relationship has evolved into a significant partnership in the economic and commercial sphere. While Indians have emerged as important investors in the UAE, India is an important export destination for the UAE manufactured goods.
According to government data, India-UAE trade, valued at $180 million per annum in the 1970s, is today around $60 billion, making UAE India’s third largest trading partner for 2014-15 after China and the US.
Moreover, UAE was the second largest export destination for India ($33 billion for 2014-15). For UAE, India was the largest trading partner for the year 2013 (over $36 billion, non-oil trade).
With respect to oil trade, UAE was the sixth largest import source of crude oil for India in 2014-15.
“Since they contribute about 9 per cent to the oil basket, it will be pertinent to augment the supply. This will be part of the Prime Minister’s agenda,” a source said.
With respect to bilateral investments, total FDI from UAE to India is estimated to be $3.01 billion (January 2015) and ranked as 10th biggest investor in India.