Abu Dhabi: The UAE and India have agreed in principle to start negotiation on Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement and conclude it at the earliest during Indian Finance Minister P.Chidamabaram’s official UAE visit yesterday, a top Indian diplomat told Gulf News yesterday.
“Both sides have agreed to start the negotiations next month,” said M.K. Lokesh, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, who was present at Chidambaram’s meetings with top UAE officials.
General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, received the Indian Minister at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, in the presence of Shaikh Hamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court and managing director of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA). He had a separate meeting also with Shaikh Hamed.
Earlier, Chidambaram met in Dubai with Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Makthoum, UAE Finance Minister and Deputy Ruler of Dubai.
The Indian Minister assured the UAE leaders that India would take concrete steps to address the concerns about the UAE’s investments in India, Lokesh said. He has promised maximum efforts from the Government of India in this regard, the envoy said.
Chidambaram also expressed confidence in sorting out certain undefined issues related to Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (BIPA), he said. Both sides have agreed to set up remaining sub-committees of UAE-India High Level Task Force on Investments that was set up in February, which will help in that direction. “Some sub-committees were already formed, but one or two were remaining,” the envoy said.
Chidambaram sought more UAE investments in greenfield projects in Indian infrastructure sector, which seeks $1 trillion (Dh3.67 trillion) in investments in the next five years, of which 50 per cent is expected from private sector or foreign investors, Lokesh said.
In the first meeting of the bilateral taskforce in February, the UAE side had promised the allocation of $2 billion for investments in infrastructure projects in India. The meeting had agreed in principle to put in place BIPA, which was discussed during Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid’s UAE visit in March. It has come into focus again following a recent deal between Etihad Airways and India’s private airline Jet Airways with the former to acquire 24 per cent stake in the latter for $379 million (Dh1.39 billion).
India and the UAE are largest trading partners with $74.723 billion bilateral trade during the 2012-2013 financial year ended in March
Chidambaram’s visit was also part of his global tour to attract foreign investments. India is betting big on foreign resources to finance the Current Account Deficit (CAD), which had widened to a record high of 6.7 per cent in October-December quarter of 2012-13.
Chidambaram concluded a tri-nation tour last week to the UK, France and Qatar. He had similar visits to Hong Kong, Singapore, Europe, Japan, Germany, Frankfurt, Canada and the US to attract foreign investment into India.