Remarks by India's External Affairs Minister during interaction with select Captains of Industry in Abu Dhabi, UAE

May I begin by thanking you all for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us for this meeting.

I am delighted to be present here today on my first visit to the UAE. The warm welcome that I have received, both from the Indian and Emirati communities, is a testimony to the strength and success of overseas Indians in this country and the respect they enjoy for their contribution to the development of the UAE. In particular, I am delighted here to see so many distinguished Indian businessmen who have done exceedingly well in their chosen fields.

The main purpose of this interaction is to explore ways and means to further deepen our bilateral economic and commercial engagement and to think creatively in order to tap the existing potential.

Our ties with UAE have grown on all fronts. UAE has been one of our largest trading partners for the past several years. Our bilateral economic and commercial engagement is broad-based encompassing a wide range of products and services. However, given the size of our economies and the wide convergence of interests in many areas, the present level of trade and investments can be enhanced even further.

Friends,

After nearly three decades, India has a new government voted in with a huge majority. With such a majority, come heavy responsibilities and the task of meeting the expectations of our people.

When our Government took over, the GDP growth was under 5 percent, inflation high, no confidence in the economy. But the people of the country and the world showed confidence in this government – as was evident by the high sensex figures and the euphoria.

Our Government is firmly committed to bring back growth, have clear policies which will facilitate business environment, transparency and speed, well thought out decisions. The result is there before you in just five months: GDP growth is showing early signs of recovery. Interest in the economy has surged, queries for investment increased and the investment sentiment improved.

Our focus is growth with good governance and transparency with an eye on manufacturing, infrastructure and trade. On 15 August, our Prime Minister spelt out his government’s utmost priority of making India an investment and manufacturing destination. He launched "Make in India” campaign on 25 September inviting foreign entrepreneurs to come and set up manufacturing bases in India. This will make India an important partner in the global value chain.

The "Make in India” programme lays emphasis on 25 manufacturing sectors with focus on job creation and skill enhancement. These sectors include automobiles, auto components, design manufacturing, renewable energy, mining, textiles, bio-technology, pharmaceuticals, electronics and ports.

As a part of the plan, foreign investment caps in construction is being eased to enable greater participation in the government’s 100 Smart Cities project and affordable housing. The FDI caps in railways and defence production have already been eased to 100% and 49%, respectively. The objective is also to ensure solid growth and employment creation. Small and Medium sectors would also be central to the plan of absorbing job aspirants and reviving the manufacturing sector

Our infrastructure financing needs are estimated to be one trillion US dollars in the next five years. We have ambitious targets and have put in place mechanisms to overcome implementation bottlenecks. Our policies are transparent, stable and designed to provide a level-playing field to both domestic and foreign investors.

In terms of infrastructure, we are putting emphasis on creation of new Smart Cities and Industrial Clusters. Existing Industrial Corridors are being reinforced and new ones setup. World-class horizontal and vertical infrastructures are being created along these corridors which we expect will act as a magnate for investment.

We plan to embark on massive programme for developing skills of our youth in consonance with the requirement of the industry. Most importantly, I am confident that our "Make in India” campaign represent an attitudinal shift in the way India relates to its investors. We hope to form dedicated teams that will guide and assist first time investors, from time of their arrival.

I feel that there is no better time than now for the UAE business community to join our hands as partners in India’s growth story. There are immense possibilities to enhance trade and investment cooperation. Indian investors are already one of the largest groups in the UAE. In turn, UAE can also become a substantial source for meeting our investment requirements. Moreover, the UAE and, especially Dubai, can become our gateway to larger MENA region and, indeed, to Africa as a whole.

Following this meeting I will be meeting with Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah. We will broadly review our steadily strengthening bilateral relationship. We are both committed to working closely in all areas of mutual interests and concern, and in particular, in promoting trade and investment ties.

I understand the apprehensions in the minds of some of you regarding your past experiences of investments in India. But let me assure you that our government is committed to honour the commitments made and opening up of sectors for foreign investment. Bilateral Trade and Investment Protection Agreement between India and UAE have entered into force with effect from 23 September 2014 and would facilitate safety of your investments.

UAE is also one of the countries with which we have a Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement having certain preferential features conducive for increased investment in India. BIPPA and DTAA, thus, provide the necessary framework under which investments from UAE into India would not only be safe but would also provide good returns.

We look at the UAE as of our key development partners. An increase in bilateral trade and investment would bring with it mutual benefits to both India and the UAE, and translate into greater opportunity and prosperity for our nations and people.

I thank you for your patient hearing and I am hoping to receive your suggestions in this direction and especially on how my Ministry can better engage with the local businesses and investors.

11.11.2014

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