Abu Dhabi: At the invitation of the Prime Minister of the Republic of India, Narendra Modi, President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan paid an official visit to Gujarat, India from 9th-10th January 2024 as the Chief Guest of the 10th edition of Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2024.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to India. The two leaders held constructive talks, reaffirming the strength of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and close ties between their countries, and their commitment to continue collaborating to reinforce the longstanding and robust strategic partnership.
The two leaders noted that this was the fourth visit of Sheikh Mohamed to India, in the last eight years and his second official visit to India as the President of the UAE. Sheikh Mohamed last visited India on 8th-9th September 2023 to attend the G20 Leaders' Summit in New Delhi, where he met with Modi on the margins of the Summit. During that visit, Sheikh Mohamed participated in the launch of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor on the sidelines of the Summit. Both sides highlighted the six visits of Modi to the UAE over the past nine years, with the last visit in December 2023 to attend COP28 in Dubai.
The two leaders discussed the significant global roles of India and the UAE in 2023, including India's Presidency of the G20, and the UAE's Presidency of COP28. The UAE commended the endeavours by the Indian Presidency describing it as the most ambitious in the history of the G20 and the efforts of both sides to maximise synergies between the G20 process and COP28 over the course of 2023. The UAE side expressed appreciation to India for inviting the UAE as a Guest Country and the Indian side praised the UAE's key participation in the summit. The UAE's involvement in the event was a clear sign of the country's steadfast commitment to multilateral cooperation and international priorities on global issues.
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The Indian side congratulated the UAE for successfully hosting COP28, for adopting the action agenda at the early stages of the conference, and for achieving an exceptional accomplishment concluding with "The UAE Consensus", a historic agreement by 198 Parties to usher in a new era of climate action. The Indian side also thanked the UAE for the special honour accorded to Modi, to speak at the ceremonial opening of the World Climate Action Summit Plenary in Dubai. The UAE expressed appreciation to India for its support and contribution towards the success of COP28.
The Indian side also congratulated the UAE for joining the BRICS group on 1st January, 2024. The UAE side expressed appreciation to India for supporting the country's application to join the Group and reaffirmed its commitment to working closely with India and other member states to realise the shared objectives of BRICS. Both sides committed to continue working together within BRICS and other international and multilateral fora to deliver significant outcomes. The UAE stressed that becoming a member of an extended BRICS grouping reflects the country's keenness to champion the value of multilateralism in supporting peace, and development for the benefit and the wellbeing of peoples and nations across the world.
The two leaders reviewed the India-UAE relationship, which was formally elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during the visit of Sheikh Mohamed to India in 2017. They expressed satisfaction with the progress achieved in various sectors and noted that the India-UAE partnership has been significantly growing and expanding over the years.
Modi and Sheikh Mohamed witnessed the exchange of the following:
I. Memorandum of Understanding on Investment Cooperation in Innovative Healthcare Projects.
II. Memorandum of Understanding on Investment Cooperation in the Renewable Energy Sector.
III. Memorandum of Understanding on Investment Cooperation in Food Park Development.
IV. Memorandum of Understanding between DP World and the Government of Gujarat.
Recognising the importance of food security, the leaders emphasised that the India-UAE Food Park project will promote the reliability and resilience of food supply chains and expand food and agriculture trade between the UAE and India. Both nations share an intent to implement this project, among others, in India, which will unlock further value for both nations and the region in food security.
The two leaders recognised the importance of the Memorandum of Understanding on Investment Cooperation in the Renewable Energy Sector, which focuses on forging effective collaboration in renewable energy, with the aspiration to implement energy projects.
Economic and commercial cooperation
The two leaders reviewed the efforts from both sides to strengthen the strong economic and commercial cooperation and explore new areas of collaboration. They noted that the UAE is the fourth-largest investor in India in 2022-23, compared to ranking seventh in 2021-22. They welcomed the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA)'s progress in establishing a presence in Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City), a financial free zone in Gujarat. The leaders underlined that these measures will further facilitate the flow of bilateral investments.
The two leaders welcomed the strong growth in India-UAE trade since the entry into force of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) on 1st May, 2022. As a result, the UAE is India's third-largest trading partner for the year and India's second-largest export destination. India is also the UAE's second-largest trading partner. With the bilateral trade rising to $85 billion in 2022-23, the leaders expressed optimism that the target of non-oil trade to $100 billion can be achieved, well ahead of the target year 2030. They also noted that the MoU between DP World and the Government of Gujarat for Special Economic Zone (SEZ) development, ports and related infrastructure signed would further boost bilateral trade between the two countries.
Underscoring the importance of ensuring a stable and resilient multilateral trading system in fostering global economic prosperity, the two leaders stressed the importance of the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference, taking place in Abu Dhabi in February 2024, to achieve a successful outcome that serves the interests of all WTO Members and strengthens the rules-based trade order.
Partnership in energy and health fields
The two leaders resolved to further enhance the bilateral partnership in the energy field, across oil, gas, and renewable energy. Both sides will advance their cooperation in green hydrogen, solar energy and grid connectivity. The two countries also agreed to increase investment across the energy spectrum, including in India's Strategic Petroleum Reserve Programme.
Highlighting the importance of the health sector, the leaders agreed to enhance continuous health cooperation by establishing a formal framework for cooperation, promoting investments and exchanging expertise. The two leaders acknowledged that the MoU on investments in innovative healthcare signed today will play a critical role in advancing the health cooperation between the two countries. They also acknowledged the potential of India and the UAE to become a reliable alternative in global health supply chains of vaccines and pharmaceuticals. Opportunities to cooperate in the growing health infrastructure in third countries were also discussed.
Emphasising the importance of multilateralism
Both sides emphasised the importance of multilateralism and called for collective action to promote a just, rules-based global order. The Indian side congratulated the UAE for its successful tenure as an elected member of the UN Security Council for the 2022-23 term, and commended the efforts led by the UAE in the UNSC, including the adoption of resolution 2720 penned by the UAE concerning the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Both leaders reiterated the need to unite efforts to immediately reach a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza to allow safe, unhindered, and expanded humanitarian access at scale. The UAE reiterated its strong endorsement of India's bid for permanent membership of a reformed UNSC.
The two leaders agreed to further strengthen bilateral collaboration to enhance maritime security and connectivity in the region to promote prosperity in India, the UAE, and the shared neighbourhood. They also agreed to increase defence visits, exchanges, sharing of experience, training, and capacity building, as well as advance cooperation in cybersecurity.
Reiterating commitment to the fight against terrorism
Both sides exchanged views on various regional and international developments of mutual interest. The two leaders emphasised the importance of promoting the values of peace, moderation, coexistence, and tolerance among peoples. Furthermore, they reaffirmed their resolute stance in rejecting terrorism and extremism in all of its forms and manifestations at both the regional and international levels. They reiterated their commitment to the fight against extremism and terrorism, including cross-border terrorism and terrorist financing. Both sides committed to continue their cooperation in counter-terrorism at the UN and applauded their cooperation and respective efforts in this regard during their tenures in the UNSC, including the successful chairing of the Counter-Terrorism Committee by India in 2022 and the UAE in 2023, the unanimous adoption of the "Delhi Declaration on countering the use of new and emerging technologies for terrorist purposes' during the special meeting of the UNSC's Counter Terrorism Committee in Mumbai and New Delhi in October 2022, and the unanimous adoption of the Non-binding Guiding Principles on Threats posed by the use of unmanned aircraft systems for terrorist purposes, to be known as the "Abu Dhabi Guiding Principles", in 2023. They welcomed the adoption of resolution 2686 by the UN Security Council on "Tolerance, peace, and security' during the UAE's Presidency of the UNSC.
President Sheikh Mohamed thanked PM Narendra Modi for the warm hospitality extended to him and the UAE delegation. PM Modi conveyed that he is looking forward to his seventh visit to the UAE in February 2024.