Assocham signs MoUs with two UAE counterparts

Tuesday, 10 September 2002, 07:00 Hrs
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DUBAI: India's Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) has signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with two of its counterparts in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a bid to boost trade ties between the two countries.

An Assocham delegation visiting the UAE signed MoUs with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Dubai Chamber president Obaid Humaid Al Tayer and Assocham president K.K. Nohria signed the second of the two MoUs Monday in Dubai.

Later Nohria, who is leading the 20-member Assocham delegation, said Assocham would have a dedicated UAE desk, which would help it keep updated on developments in the UAE.

The Assocham delegation is visiting the UAE to explore new markets and joint venture opportunities and attract investment to India.

Under the MoU, both the bodies would encourage the exchange of trade delegations, experts and economic missions.

"The developed world has more economic power and hence it's only through meaningful cooperation that we can further our interests. In this context, the MoU we have signed will take us a long way in the right direction," said Nohria.

Al Tayer said: "We have to be prepared to withstand the onslaught of the developed countries. It's only through cooperation and mutual understanding that we can challenge the barriers being put up by the West after the advent of the WTO."

On Sunday Assocham had signed an MoU with the Sharjah chamber, under which the Sharjah chamber offered office space as well as a display facility at the new Expo Centre to Assocham.

The Assocham plans to open the office shortly. It also plans to set up a UAE desk, and the two chambers will constitute a core group to follow up the programme. Anil K. Agarwal, chairman of the Assocham Foreign Trade Committee, will head this group.

Ahmed Mohammed Al Midfa, chairman of the Sharjah chamber, said at a meeting with the Assocham delegation: "We look at having more investments and joint venture partners from India and we hope Assocham will play a catalytic role in this."

The delegation also visited the Sharjah Airport Free Zone, where the director general of the Free Zone, Taryam Mattar Taryam, welcomed it.

The SAIF Zone hosts 818 companies from 58 countries, 48 per cent of them Indian-owned. Taryam said the Saif Zone offered a number of opportunities to Indian investors. "There is a huge potential for Indian investors to start businesses here," he said.

Addressing members of the Sharjah chamber, Nohira said: "The first hand information on Sharjah and its free zones has convinced us of the huge business opportunities that await Indian entrepreneurs in the UAE."

"Apart from trade, the place has the right environment for manufacturing, value addition and services industries," he observed.

Indian exports to the UAE during the last financial year were worth $2.5 billion, while its imports from that country totalled $600 million.

Nohria noted that Indian exports to the UAE accounted for about six per cent of all Indian exports, but, considering the traditional, cultural and business affinity both countries shared, there was potential for much more business between the two countries.

Agarwal said infrastructure, manufacturing, services and the new free zones were areas that offered opportunities for foreign direct investment in India. "We see a big role for the UAE investors in developing India's infrastructure," he said.

UAE is a major trading partner of India in the Gulf region and is its largest export market in the Middle East. India's exports to the UAE are diversified and comprise a large basket of goods. Indo-UAE trade during 1999-2000 was worth $4.29 billion.

According to a report released this week by the Emirates Industrial Bank, India is the fourth largest source of the UAE's imports and its trade with the UAE has been growing at an estimated 11 per cent annually.

Source: IANS
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