New impetus in UAE-India relations with 14 agreements

Wide-ranging deals includes strategic comprehensive partnership and deals on defence and maritime cooperation

  • PM Modi welcomes Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the Hyderabad House in New DelhiImage Credit: AFP
  • Modi and Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan interact at the Hyderabad House Garden in New DelhiImage Credit: Twitter

Chiranjib Sengupta is reporting from India on Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan's visit. Follow his coverage on gulfnews.com

New Delhi: The UAE and India on Wednesday added a new momentum to their deepening bilateral engagement, signing a total of 14 wide-ranging agreements including a strategic comprehensive partnership and deals on defence and maritime cooperation. 

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of UAE Armed Forces, witnessed the exchange of the memorandums of understanding with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the sprawling Hyderabad House in the heart of the Indian capital New Delhi.

Shaikh Mohammad, who will be the chief guest at the 68th Indian Republic Day celebrations on Thursday, welcomed the strengthening bond between the UAE and India and praised the new impetus in bilateral ties.

Modi, in a speech following the exchange of the MoUs, said: "The UAE is one of our most valued partners and a close friend in an important region of the world. I have just concluded very fruitful and productive discussions with His Highness [Shaikh MOhammad Bin Zayed]. We particularly focused on implementation of various decisions taken during our last two meetings. We agreed to sustain the momentum of our relations in key areas, including energy and investments." 

The first of the agreements - on a comprehensive strategic partnership between the UAE and India - was exchanged between Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Manohar Parikkar, Indain minister of defence.

The partnership, in development since the visits of Modi to the UAE in November 2015 and Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed to India last February, substantially elevates mutual relations, the Indian prime minister said.

"We have shaped an ambitious roadmap of engagement to make our comprehensive strategic partnership purposeful and action oriented. The agreement that was exchanged just now has institutionalised this understanding," he said.

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) meanwhile entered into a partnership with the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited for strategic storage of crude oil in southern India.

The state-run ISPRL was formed exclusively to manage the crude reserve plan, with three projects finalised under the first phase with a total capacity of 5.33 million tonnes. While the UAE is the sixth-largest supplier of crude to India, the latter is the second-largest destination for UAE's oil exports.

The Indian foreign ministry said the agreement would establish "a framework for the storage of crude oil by Abu Dhabi National Oil Company in India" and "further strengthen the strategic relationship between the two countries in the field of energy". 

Modi also underscored the significance of the agreement and said: "Our energy partnership is an important bridge in our linkages. It contributes to our energy security. His Highness and I discussed ways to transform our energy ties in a strategic direction through specific projects and proposals. In this regard, long-term supply contracts and establishment of joint ventures in the energy sector can be beneficial avenues."

An agreement on institutional cooperation on maritime transport, exchanged between Dr Anwar Mohammad Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, is expected to simplify customs and other formalities and enable shipping companies in both countries to enter into further arrangements for sustainable trading.

A related agreement, between the Director-General of Shipping of India and the Federal Transport Authority (Land and Maritime) of the UAE, on the mutual recognition of certificates of competency as per the provisions of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (or STCW), was also exchanged by the same ministers.

A third MoU between the same signatories was exchanged on a partnership between India’s Road Transport and Highways Ministry and the UAE’s Federal Transport Authority – Land and Maritime, to significantly enhance bilatreal cooperation and collaboration between India and the UAE - a deal aimed at increased investment in infrastructure development and improving logistical efficiency.

Highlighting the potential for mutual growth in the infrastructure and transport sector, Modi said several Indian companies were interested in helping build the infrastrcutre for the World Expo 2020 in Dubai.

"We regard the UAE as an important partner in India’s growth story. I particularly welcome UAE’s interest in investing in India’s infrastructure sector. We are working to connect institutional investors in the UAE with our National Investment and Infrastructure Fund. I also shared with His Highness the interest of Indian companies to be a partner in infrastructure projects for the World Expo 2020 in Dubai. The UAE can benefit by linking with our growth in manufacturing and services. We can jointly tap abundant opportunities in our initiatives aimed at building digital economy, human capital and smart urbanisation in India. We are also encouraging and facilitating business and industry of both countries to increase the quality and quantum bilateral trade. The agreement on trade remedies signed today would strengthen our trade partnership further," he said.

An agreement exchanged between Mohammad Al Bawardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs, and Parikkar will also see both nations contribute to growing cooperation and synergies in the defence industries sector, which the Indian prime minster said had added "growing new dimensions to our relationship" and "will help steer our defence engagements in the right direction". He also said the role being played by both nations and their "growing engagement in countering violence and extremism is necessary for securing our societies".

Among the other deals signed on Thursday were an MoU on cooperation in prevention and combating of human trafficking, an agreement on cooperation in the field of small and medium enterprises and innovation, a deal on technology development and cooperation in cyberspace between National Security Council and the National Electronic Security Authority of the UAE.

Both sides also agreed to exempt mutual entry visa requirements for holders of diplomatic, special and official passports.

List of agreements

1. Comprehensive strategic partnership between the UAE and India

2. Technology development and cooperation in cyberspace

3. Cooperation in defence industry

4. Agreement on strategic oil storage and management

5. Institutional cooperation on maritime transport

6. Mutual recognition of certificates of competency as per STCW provisions

7. Bilateral cooperation in road transport and highways

8. MoU on prevention and combating of human trafficking

9. MoU on cooperation in small and medium industries and innovation

10. Partnership in agriculture and allied sectors

11. Mutual exemption of visa for diplomatic, special and official passport holders

12. Agreement on trade remedial measures

13. Cooperation on energy efficiency services

14. MoU on cooperation in programme exchange    

Chiranjib Sengupta is reporting from India on Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan's visit. Follow his coverage on gulfnews.com

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