Foreign Policy Watch: India-Middle East

The significance of PM’s visit to the UAE

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- India-UAE relations

Context

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UAE on June 28 was his fourth, having visited the country earlier in August 2015, in February 2018 and again in August 2019.

Why do the Gulf and UAE matters to India?

  • The UAE has given crucial support to India in the Islamic world, first by inviting our late External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj as a guest of honour at an OIC foreign ministers meeting in Abu Dhabi.
  • The UAE stood with us on Jammu and Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370.
  • The Gulf is our third-largest trading partner.
  • The Gulf region is our principal source of hydrocarbons.
  • It is also a major source of foreign investment.
  • The region is home to some 8 million Indians who send in over $50 billion annually in remittances.

Deepening bilateral ties

  • CEPA: In a virtual summit with Sheikh Mohamed in February 2022, both sides signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
  • CEPA is a significant milestone that was negotiated and finalised in just 88 days and promises to increase bilateral trade from $60 billion to $ 100 billion in five years.
  •  It is expected to help Indian exports in areas ranging from gems and jewellery and textiles to footwear and pharmaceuticals, apart from enhanced access for Indian service providers to 11 specific sectors.
  • Vision statement: An ambitious, forward-looking Joint Vision Statement titled, “Advancing the India and UAE Comprehensive Strategic Partnership: New Frontiers, New Milestones” was also issued.
  • The Dubai-based DP World and India’s National Skills Development Council signed an agreement to set up a Skill India Centre in Varanasi to train local youth in logistics, port operations and allied areas so that they can pursue overseas employment.

New avenues for multilateral cooperation

  • The rapid normalisation of ties between the UAE and Israel following the Abraham Accords of August 2020 has also opened new avenues of trilateral and multilateral cooperation.
  • Technology, capital and scale: Some Israeli tech companies are already establishing a base in Dubai and seeking to marry niche technologies with Emirati capital and Indian scale. 
  • 2I2U: The US has announced that President Joe Biden’s forthcoming visit to West Asia will see a virtual summit of what it calls the 2I2U, a new grouping that brings together India, Israel, the US and UAE.

Conclusion

The UAE today is India’s closest partner in the Arab world. Both countries need to expand the areas of cooperation and deepen their engagement.

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Back2Basics: Abraham Accords

  • The Israel–UAE normalization agreement is officially called the Abraham Accords Peace Agreement.
  • It was initially agreed to in a joint statement by the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on August 13, 2020.
  • The UAE thus became the third Arab country, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, to agree to formally normalize its relationship with Israel as well as the first Persian Gulf country to do so.
  • Concurrently, Israel agreed to suspend plans for annexing parts of the West Bank.
  • The agreement normalized what had long been informal but robust foreign relations between the two countries.
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