'The sky is the limit for cooperation' in business between the UAE and India

MUMBAI // Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, arrived in Mumbai on Friday, as business leaders from the UAE gathered in the financial capital to discuss opportunities to invest in India and boost business relations between the two countries.

“The sky is the limit for cooperation between both the countries,” said Yusuff Ali, managing director of the UAE-based LuLu Group, speaking at a conference organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

Mr Ali, who is originally from the southern Indian state of Kerala, said Sheikh Mohammed and the Emirati delegation’s visit to India would “take the UAE-Indo relationship to a new level”.

Sectors in India which presented opportunities for foreign investment included infrastructure, heavy industries, broadcasting, and civil aviation, he said.

“Also, there are a lot of opportunities in the United Arab Emirates for Indian businessmen in various sectors including hospitality, IT, health care.”

DP World chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem and UAE Exchange head BR Shetty, and Hamad Abdulla Al Shamsi, the chairman of Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange, were among the packed audience that gathered at the event.

Ahmad bin Harib Alfalahi, the UAE commercial attaché to India, highlighted the two countries’ historic trading relations.

“I can tell you right now this is the best time to invest in India,” he said. “Yes, there’s a lot of things that need to change, yes there’s a lot of bureaucracy still going on, but keep in mind this is large nation of 1.2 billion.”

He said that prime minister Narendra Modi’s government was easing the business environment with initiatives such as Make in India, a scheme to boost India’s manufacturing activity.

The UAE was India’s “gateway to the region and to the world”, Mr Alfalahi said. He described the Emirates as “a safe haven for business”.

Ajay Kumar, the Indian government’s additional secretary of the department of electronics and information technology, outlined opportunities in India’s IT and communications industry.

“A very strong commitment has been shown by our honourable prime minster towards the UAE and the recent discussions that he has had on the UAE throws a very important light on the type of relationship that we look forward to having with the UAE,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, the director general of CII, addressing the conference.

“The prime minister’s visit to the UAE has had very far reaching positive implications on our bilateral relationship. Yours coming in this number shows the type of commitment, the interest that you have in India. This is a very strong motivation for India and we will reciprocate this by taking a very strong team from India into the UAE to see how we can do business together even in a much stronger way.”

He said that the CII would like to work with UAE companies to help connect them to different states in India and explore opportunities for them to invest in the country. He said the CII would be particularly keen to help small and medium sized companies expand into India.

“The UAE has a lot to offer India,” said Mr Banerjee. “We would like to provide a platform and do certain showcasing of your products, your services, your strengths, in different parts of the country.”


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