New Delhi: Ahmed Albanna, ambassador of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to India, Thursday referred to the newly formed India-Israel-US-UAE grouping as the ‘West Asian Quad’, which is crucial for addressing global threats.
The India-Israel-US-UAE grouping, that met for the first time under a new framework in October 2021, was created to mainly deal with issues concerning maritime security, infrastructure, digital infrastructure, and transport. The grouping was announced during a meeting of the foreign ministers of the four countries on 18 October 2021.
“Signing of the historic Abraham Accord has not only opened up new opportunities for our own bilaterals with the state of UAE but also the trilateral strategic cooperation between the UAE, the US, India and Israel,” Albanna said at an event Thursday, adding that this ‘West Asian Quad’ will focus more on technology and security.
“The newly formed West Asian Quad between the UAE, India, Israel and the US is an offspring of the Abraham Accord… I firmly believe that the multilateral approach is more critical than ever to respond to increasingly complex threats to global economic growth and stability,” he added.
The Abraham Accords were signed in September 2020 by the US, UAE and Bahrain, which were later joined by Sudan and Morocco. Under these accords, the Jewish state of Israel has established diplomatic relations with its Muslim-majority neighbours and heralded normalisation of ties between the UAE and Israel.
New defence & security ties
Albanna also said while India and the UAE always enjoyed a growing relationship when it came to energy partnership and people-to-people connectivity, it has now expanded to the segments of defence and security.
“Our bilateral partnership has been traditionally dominated by energy and trade and expatriates. In recent times, we have witnessed a deepening of cooperation in new, strategic sectors such as defence, security, healthcare and sophisticated technology, like blockchain and artificial intelligence,” he said.
He also said the UAE is India’s only foreign partner in strategic oil reserves.
India-UAE CEPA to boost two-way trade
On the upcoming signing of the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), the envoy said all approvals are in place and are awaiting the leadership of both countries to give it the go ahead.
“It will be signed soon and implemented,” Albanna said, adding, “we did it in less than four months’ time”. Negotiations for the free trade pact or CEPA began in October 2021.
He also said that the proposed India-UAE CEPA will further boost trade and investment ties between the countries.
According to Albanna, two-way trade between India and the UAE will now get a further boost, as they are now strategic partners. He said the UAE will also invest a total of $75 billion in India to strengthen infrastructure.
“We started the actual negotiations in October and by December-end our negotiators had finalised the agreement… Signing a CEPA usually takes countries months and months, if not years and years,” Albanna said, adding that the pact will boost India’s manufacturing sector and generate jobs.
To effect the flow of investments, the trade pact will create a “one-zone corridor” for India in the UAE and vice-versa, he said.
UAE is India’s third-largest trading partner, with two-way trade reaching nearly $60 billion in 2020-21. Both sides have set a target of taking this to $100 billion by 2026.
(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)