Expand local trade globally with landmark UAE-India agreement


The UAE and India have embarked on a historic new era of collaboration, cooperation and exchange. The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) is an important step in efforts to build stronger relationships with like-minded nations and reflects our deep strategic ties with one of the fastest growing markets in the world. world.

For the thousands of SMEs that form the backbone of our economy, this also represents an exciting new era, which will fuel startup growth by unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit in both countries and reducing the cost of transporting goods. between economies.

Our nation was built on the foundation laid by entrepreneurial traders who transformed our country into a vital gateway for the movement of goods and services from east to west. Today, small and medium-sized enterprises are essential to our modern knowledge-based economy. The sector accounts for 95% of businesses operating here in the UAE and contributes over 50% of the UAE’s GDP.

As a country, we are considered the best place in the world to start a new business, ranking first in the world in the latest Global Entrepreneurship Index, outperforming major entrepreneurial economies such as the United States, the United Kingdom United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Singapore and South Korea. Additionally, in 2021, UAE-based start-ups raised a record $1.2 billion in funding, doubling the number from 2020 and cementing the UAE’s position as the region’s leading country in in venture capital financing.

As the UAE is becoming the entrepreneurial nation and reshaping the economy to be more start-up friendly, any bilateral trade agreement our country develops cannot be complete without an opportunity for SMEs. to grow and develop.

Extended offer

The UAE-India CEPA is wide-ranging in nature, covering goods and services, investment, intellectual property, digital trade, data protection. It will provide a platform for UAE-based SMEs to grow and expand into exciting new markets, with enhanced access to new customers, networks, avenues of collaboration and mechanisms to scale rapidly.

We expect the India deal to generate more than $100 billion in bilateral non-oil trade within five years. Such an increase in bilateral economic activity will have considerable economic benefits: foreign exports will increase significantly and people in both countries will find exciting new opportunities in traditional sectors and industries of the future. For SMEs in India and the UAE, trade and transactions could reach new heights.

We believe that CEPA will usher in a new era of entrepreneurship, an era that will rely on those born in Bangalore and Mumbai, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. From space and life sciences to agri-tech, artificial intelligence, renewable energy and e-commerce, it will open new horizons for those with vision and tenacity. It will advocate for the private sector, consolidate the country’s position as a global economic hub and ensure that the SME sector remains a catalyst for innovation and a champion of inclusive economic growth.

CEPA offers a multitude of new business opportunities for SMEs. It will foster cooperation with our Indian partners to improve the services offered by incubators, startup accelerators, export support centers and the infrastructural ecosystem that supports them. A network will be created to transparently exchange knowledge and expertise and give SMEs greater participation in global trade.

The agreement is also in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It aims to strengthen bilateral collaboration to promote women-owned businesses and startups. Mechanisms are also in place to encourage youth participation in the SME space through joint initiatives, activities and programmes. This comprehensive framework will ensure better opportunities for women and young citizens, boosting productive employment, reducing inequalities and encouraging sustained, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

Bringing Home the Advantage

To enable these opportunities, there will be a dedicated SME committee led by SME support entities in both countries. The main task of the committee will be to identify opportunities to enhance the growth of SMEs in both economies and maximize business benefits. It will also seek ways to increase information exchange on policy effectiveness and best practices in SME ecosystem development in the two economies. .

The committee will meet regularly to recommend ways to strengthen collaboration and encourage SMEs to engage in advanced aspects of CEPA, such as digital commerce and cross-border data transfer. It will also review and improve training programs, trade education, trade finance, trade missions, trade facilitation and digital trade and matchmaking services to identify new partners and investors in India and vice poured.

To improve cash flow, liquidity and financing, we are streamlining access to capital and credit. This makes it easier for businesses to get the support they need to go global. Reducing or eliminating tariffs on more than 80% of goods will also reduce the financial burden local businesses face and contribute to the UAE’s position as a competitive trade and logistics hub attractive to talent. , investors and entrepreneurs.

In various discussions I’ve had with companies, we see ambitious growth plans but varied challenges, and so we made sure that, through the mechanisms of the agreement, we develop a network of SMEs who can learn each other and share best practices in addition to developing partnerships that will unlock growth and expansion. I look forward to more success stories with SMEs as they grow and transform into larger, more sophisticated entities.

Thanks to this in-depth partnership, we put all our strength at the service of SMEs. This is why our negotiating team advocated for a stand-alone SME chapter in our first bilateral trade agreement. As the UAE advances trade negotiations with Israel, Indonesia and others, we will ensure the nation’s entrepreneurial spirit thrives over the next 50 years.

— Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi is the UAE’s Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs.


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