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Economics and energy security on agenda as UAE foreign minister visits India

During his visit, the UAE minister will meet India’s external affairs minister S. Jaishankar for consultations on bilateral and global issues. (File Photo: PTI)Premium
During his visit, the UAE minister will meet India’s external affairs minister S. Jaishankar for consultations on bilateral and global issues. (File Photo: PTI)

India and UAE signed a free trade agreement, the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, earlier in 2022. It was the first FTA signed by the Narendra Modi government since taking office in 2014.

NEW DELHI: Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, United Arab Emirates, landed in India on Monday for a short visit. Al-Nahyan, accompanied by a high-level delegation, will be in India from 21 November 21 to 22 November.

During his visit, the UAE minister will meet India’s external affairs minister S. Jaishankar for consultations on bilateral and global issues.

“First and foremost, this is part of normal contacts between India and the UAE. High level talks are fairly regular. This is a visit which is not pushed by a pressing matter but rather one that is symptomatic of a good relationship between both countries," says Kabir Taneja, senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, a think-tank.

Trade and investment issues are likely to feature prominently in the talks, according to Taneja.

“Economics has really come to the forefront in India’s relationship with the Gulf. New Delhi would like entities like the UAE Sovereign Fund to driver investments in India. There are a number of issues to be discussed on this front," he opines.

India and UAE signed a free trade agreement, the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, earlier in 2022. It was the first FTA signed by the Narendra Modi government since taking office in 2014.

Energy security and nascent forums for cooperation like the I2U2 will also likely feature in the bilateral consultations.

“A pressing issue on energy will be on the pricing of oil since high prices hurt India. New Delhi will look to put its view forward with the UAE, which is a member of OPEC. However, other than expressing its concerns, India has very little leverage on this issue," Taneja adds.

Nascent mechanisms to ensure regional security like the I2U2, also known as the “West Asia Quad", may figure on the agenda. The grouping, which consists of India, Israel, United States and the UAE, was created last year with a focus on the Middle East. The grouping held its first summit in July 2022.

“I2U2 is still in the formulation stage and there is quite a bit of work to do there. There is also some skepticism around I2U2 and whether it has the necessary financial resources and political will behind it. If both sides are serious about I2U2, they will be discussing practical areas of cooperation that can be mobilised soon", Taneja says.

Al-Nahyan’s comes close on the heels of high-level visits from India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the UAE in June and met with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the president of the UAE. This was followed Jaishankar’s visit to the country for the third Strategic Dialogue between the countries in August .

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