India, UAE launch CEPA negotiations, targets $100 bn in bilateral trade in 5 years

India’s minister of commerce and industry, consumer affairs, food, and public distribution and textiles Piyush Goyal and United Arab Emirates’ minister of state for foreign trade Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi on Wednesday formally launched negotiations on the India-United Arab Emirates Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

A high-level delegation headed by Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi and is in New Delhi to hold talks aimed at improving bilateral economic relations, including expanding the existing trade and investment relationship. The first round of CEPA negotiations will be held on 23-24 September 2021.
Both ministers expressed a desire to build on the progress made by both countries under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership signed in 2017 to arrive at a mutually beneficial economic deal. Both sides will aim to conclude negotiations by December 2021 and sign a formal agreement in March 2022 after the completion of internal legal procedures and ratification.
The ministers emphasised that CEPA will create new jobs, raise living standards, and provide wider social and economic opportunities in both nations. A new strategic economic agreement is expected to increase bilateral trade in goods to $100 billion within five years of the signing of the agreement, and increase trade in services to $15 billion.
The UAE is currently India’s third-largest trading partner with bilateral trade in 2019-2020 valued at $59 billion. The UAE is also India’s second-largest export destination after the US, with exports valued at approximately $29 billion in 2019-2020. India was the UAE’s second-largest trading partner in 2019, with bilateral non-oil trade valued at $41 billion. 
UAE is the eighth-largest investor in India, having invested $11 billion between April 2000 and March 2021, while investment by Indian companies in the UAE is estimated to be over $85 billion.
India's major exports to the UAE include petroleum products, precious metals, stones, gems and jewellery, minerals, food items such as cereals, sugar, fruits and vegetables, tea, meat, and seafood, textiles, engineering and machinery products, and chemicals. India's top imports from the UAE include petroleum and petroleum products, precious metals, stones, gems and jewellery, minerals, chemicals and wood and wood products. India imported $10.9 billion of crude oil from the UAE in 2019-2020.
During the meeting in New Delhi, Goyal extended his deep appreciation to the UAE for its support during the pandemic, especially for supplying liquid medical oxygen and medicine. On his part, Al Zeyoudi also thanked the Government of India for its support during the pandemic, which included keeping supply chains open.
Reaffirming their commitment to working together, both ministers agreed to strengthen the rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open, and inclusive multilateral trading system embodied by the World Trade Organisation. They also agreed to work towards a balanced and inclusive outcome at the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) in Geneva, Switzerland.
Goyal conveyed India’s best wishes for Expo 2020 Dubai, which begins on 1 October 2021, and expressed confidence that India’s participation will help boost bilateral trade and investment. He also confirmed he will co-chair the ninth UAE-India High Level Joint Task Force on Investments with Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.
The ministers underlined the need to coordinate and promote cooperation under the framework of the memorandum of understanding signed in January 2017 between the two countries for cooperation on trade remedy measures. As envisaged in that agreement, both countries will identify clear areas of focus and establish ways of working together to resolve trade remedy cases.
They emphasised that concluding CEPA negotiations quickly and constructively will further strengthen the deep trade and economic ties between the two countries.