India-UAE MoU on investment fund likely

New Delhi, Jan 24 (IANS) India and the UAE are likely to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on an investment fund during the course of the visit here of Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan this week, a senior official said on Tuesday.

“The UAE (United Arab Emirates), of course, also has the largest sovereign wealth fund (SWF),” Amar Sinha, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the External Affairs Ministry, said at a media briefing here.

“There is an agreement that they will invest nearly $75 billion in India over the next couple of years,” he said.

“During the visit (of Sheikh Mohamed), we are hoping that there will be an MoU signed between their investment fund and our National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF).”

Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to the UAE in August 2015, the two sides agreed to set up UAE-India Infrastructure Investment Fund, with the aim of reaching a target of $75 billion to support investment in India’s plans for rapid expansion of next generation infrastructure, especially in railways, ports, roads, airports and industrial corridors and parks.

This was reiterated during Sheikh Mohamed’s visit to India in February last year.

According to Sinha, bilateral trade and commerce will figure prominently during the talks between the two sides.

Stating that bilateral trade last year stood at an “impressive” $50 billion, he said that that the UAE “is the gateway for our exports to Africa and Central Asia”.

Another key area in which the two sides hope to reach an agreement is petroleum reserves, according to Sinha.

The UAE is a significant contributor to India’s energy security and was the fifth largest supplier of crude oil in 2015-16.

“We are adding a new element to this relationship of just being a buyer that UAE has decided to become a strategic partner in the energy sector,” Sinha said.

He said that both sides would be investing and filling up a key petroleum reserve facility in Mangalore.

Other areas of cooperation in which India and UAE are looking at include defence and security, space, civil nuclear, and counter-terrorism and intelligence sharing.

Sheikh Mohamed will be visiting India from Tuesday to Thursday during the course of which he will attend the Republic Day celebrations as the chief guest.

He will be accompanied by a high-level delegation, including ministers, senior officials and captains of industry.

Prime Minister Modi and Sheikh Mohamed will hold bilateral discussions on Wednesday following which a number of agreements are expected to be signed.

The visiting dignitary will also call on President Pranab Mukherjee and and meet Vice President Hamid Ansari.

This year, a contingent of the UAE armed forces will also be marching with the Indian armed forces at the Republic Day parade.

Sinha said that apart from participating in the events in New Delhi, the UAE Economy Minister and business delegation would also go to Vishakhapatnam to participate in the CII’s Partnership Summit.

–IANS

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