Piyush Goyal Announces Unveiling of Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement Between India & UAE

Piyush Goyal

The Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal, on 27 March 2022, announced the unveiling of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at a press conference during his visit to the UAE. The Minister is in UAE to participate in ‘Investopia Summit’ and ‘World Government Summit’ being held in Dubai on 28th & 29th March 2022 respectively. With this launch, the text of the India-UAE CEPA is now available in the public domain.

India-UAE CEPA was signed on 18 February 2022 in New Delhi during the India-UAE Virtual Summit held between Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, and Chairman of the Executive Council.

Salient Features of CEPA

The India-UAE CEPA is the first deep and full free trade agreement to be signed by India with any country in the past decade. The Agreement is a comprehensive agreement which will cover Trade in Goods, Rules of Origin, Trade in Services, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures, Dispute Settlement, Movement of Natural Persons, Telecom, Customs Procedures, Pharmaceutical products, Government Procurement, IPR, Investment, Digital Trade and Cooperation in other areas.

CEPA provides for an institutional mechanism to encourage and improve trade between the two countries. The CEPA between India and the UAE covers almost all the tariff lines dealt in by India (11,908 tariff lines) and the UAE (7,581 tariff lines) respectively. India will benefit from preferential market access provided by the UAE on over 97% of its tariff lines which account for 99% of Indian exports to the UAE in value terms, especially for all the labor-intensive sectors such as gems and jewellery, textiles, leather, footwear, sports goods, plastics, furniture, agricultural and wood products, engineering products, medical devices, and automobiles. India will also be offering preferential access to the UAE on over 90% of its tariff lines, including lines of export interest to the UAE.

As regards trade in services, India has offered market access to the UAE in around 100 sub-sectors, while Indian service providers will have access to around 111 sub-sectors from the 11 broad service sectors such as business services, communication services, construction & related engineering services, distribution services, educational services, environmental services, financial services, health-related & social services, tourism & travel-related services, recreational cultural & sporting services, and transport services.

Both sides have also agreed to a separate Annex on pharmaceuticals to facilitate access to Indian pharmaceuticals products, especially automatic registration and marketing authorisation in 90 days for products meeting specified criteria.

The negotiations for India-UAE CEPA were concluded in a record span of 88 days. The Agreement is expected to enter into force on 01 May 2022.

Brief Overview

India and the UAE enjoy excellent bilateral relations, which are deep-rooted and historical, sustained and nurtured by close cultural and civilizational affinities, frequent high-level political interactions, and vibrant people-to-people linkages. The India-UAE comprehensive strategic partnership initiated during the visit of the Prime Minister of India to UAE on 16-17 August 2015, is the cornerstone of our multi-faceted bilateral relations.

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Growing India-UAE economic and commercial relations contribute to the stability and strength of a rapidly diversifying and deepening bilateral relationship between the two countries. India and the UAE have been each other’s leading trading partners. These excellent bilateral economic and commercial relations have continued to enhance and deepen over time. From US$ 180 million per annum in the 1970s, India-UAE bilateral trade has steadily increased to US$ 60 billion (₹4.55 lakh crore) in FY 2019-20 making the UAE, India’s third-largest trading partner. With exports to the UAE valued at US$ 29 billion for the year 2019-20, the UAE is also the second-largest export destination of India, while Indian imports from the UAE were valued at around US$ 30 billion, including 21.83 MMT (US$ 10.9 billion) of crude oil. The UAE is an important source of India’s energy supply and a key partner of India in the development of strategic petroleum reserves, upstream, and downstream petroleum sectors.

The UAE is also the eighth-largest investor in India with an estimated investment of US$ 18 billion. Moreover, India and the UAE have recently entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) whereby the UAE has committed US$ 75 billion towards infrastructure development in India. Further, in October 2021, the Government of Dubai signed an MoU with the Jammu and Kashmir administration for real estate development, industrial parks, IT towers, multipurpose towers, logistics, medical college, a super specialty hospital, and more.

The India-UAE CEPA will further cement the already deep, close & strategic relations between the two countries and will create new employment opportunities, raise living standards, and improve the general welfare of the people of the two countries.

(With inputs from PIB)