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India-UAE trade booms–volume to touch USD 100 billion in 5-8 years

The Lt. Governor Of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha met Dr. Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, UAE, in Dubai and had extensive discussion on ways to boost the JandK-UAE Business Partnership

The volume of the bilateral trade between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is tipped to increase from $60 billion to $100 billion in the next 5-8 years in tune with the growing partnership between the two countries.

Elaborating on the potential of collaboration between India and the UAE, Dr. Ahmed Abdul Rahman Al Banna, the UAE ambassador in India, said at one of the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha's Kashmir promotion events in Dubai on Friday: “India is the second largest trading partner for the United Arab Emirates and UAE is the third largest trading partner for India after the United States of America and China. Our total Foreign Trade figures reached about USD 60 billion in 2019-2020. The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the United Arab Emirates and India will be crucial in deepening the ties between India and UAE. We are hoping that CEPA will increase our bilateral trade from USD 60 billion to USD 100 billion in the coming 5 to 8 years”.

“Ever since the Government of India announced the historic administrative changes in 2019, the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir has become the latest success story among Indian states as a model of economic and social development. India and UAE are each other's largest trading partners. And soon, CEPA will be signed, which certainly has the potential to catapult our economic engagement to a very different trajectory altogether,” the Indian ambassador in the UAE, Sunjay Sudhir, said.

“Jammu & Kashmir has moved from a sleeping business destination to the land of opportunities and investment. The Union Territory received investment proposals worth Rs 45,000 crore and additional Rs 18,300 crore in the real estate sector and showcased the enormous opportunities and business potential in the region”, LG Sinha observed.

Jammu & Kashmir has signed 5 MoUs with Al Maya Group, MATU Investments LLC, GL Employment Brokerage LLC, Century Financial and Noon E-commerce and one Letter of Interest between Magna Waves Pvt. Ltd along with Emaar Group and Lulu International.

Talking about the upcoming opportunities with leading investors, Sinha said: “Jammu & Kashmir is working relentlessly to provide an investment friendly environment to the global investors. From the business point of view, J&K has the capability to provide opportunities to the industries to compete, correct and collaborate with readily available abundant resources. Archaic laws have been removed and more than 890 Central laws, which are the key drivers of socio-economic growth and have been made applicable”.

Among the six major Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) signed during Sinha's four-day visit to the Gulf country was one about $100 million investment with the company of a non-resident Indian from Jammu & Kashmir.

Sinha’s entourage on Friday signed the MoU for establishment of three luxury hotels and one commercial-cum-residential complex, with estimated investment of $100 million with Century Financial which is owned by Mr Bal Krishen, a resident of Doda district settled in the Gulf.

The MoU was signed by Principal Secretary, Industries, J&K, Ranjan Prakash Thakur and Mr Bal Krishen in presence of Consul General of India in Dubai Aman Puri and several distinguished UAE-based business owners, investors, and entrepreneurs.

Speaking at the event at the Oberoi Dubai Business Bay, Bal Krishen said: “I have always believed that Jammu & Kashmir has tremendous investment potential and there cannot be a better time than now. Making a significant contribution to my home region has always been my dream and today as I see this dream getting realised, it’s immensely gratifying”.

In his address at Friday’s signature ceremony, Sinha said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was committed to J&K’s development. “We are happy to see the interest shown by UAE’s big business houses and leaders in supporting this vision of our honourable Prime Minister.  Global business and industry are waking up to the vistas of opportunity in J&K”, Sinha asserted.

“Despite challenges of global pandemic, neither the pace of economic and policy reforms nor the implementation of key infrastructure projects has slowed in any way in UT and us, as responsive administration will continue to respond to business's concerns”, Sinha added.

Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Ranjan Thakur said that Jammu & Kashmir was one of the safest places in India to do business, offering the most attractive incentive schemes for investments in the union territory compared to all other states and UTs.

Even as one son of the soil from Jammu’s Doda has offered an investment worth Rs 700 crore ($100 million) for strengthening of the hospitality and tourism infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir, most of the Kashmir-based tycoons, who have grabbed massive loans from the Jammu and Kashmir Bank and surreptitiously shifted their businesses to the UAE, have been conspicuously absent at the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha’s promotion events in Dubai.

A group of not-so-distinguished Kashmiri businessmen was part of Sinha’s investment promotion show but all the celebrated tycoons, running their multi-crore businesses in the Gulf country, were conspicuously hiding from the LG’s engagements. They include some big business groups who have reportedly grabbed huge loans on account of establishing industry in Jammu and Kashmir but silently shifted much of the wealth and businesses to Dubai in the last 10-15 years.

Officials said that the erstwhile political governments had showered unlimited favours on the same business groups who are known for tax evasion and money laundering. Hundreds of acres of the State land had been allotted to these groups virtually for free on long leases and nominal royalties on mineral extracts. According to senior officials, subsidies and other incentives worth hundreds of crores of Rupees had also been distributed among the same groups who got prime tourism land for a song at the world-famous resorts of Gulmarg and Pahalgam.

Sinha also visited the India Pavilion at EXPO2020 Dubai during the ongoing Jammu & Kashmir Week (03-13 January) and toured the J&K Pavilion. Talking about the importance of EXPO2020 Dubai to J&K, he said: “India’s participation at the Expo is a testament to the fact that the country values UAE as an esteemed partner. Various States and sectors in India have understood the importance of the Expo and the global exposure provided by the event. Jammu & Kashmir is privileged to participate at this global event and strengthen its footprint in the UAE”.

A two-day Buyer-Seller Meet was also hosted by the Consulate General of India in collaboration with Invest India. It is being organised between sellers from J&K and the potential buyers from the UAE under One District One Product initiative. Agriculture products, food processing, handicrafts and textile are the event’s key features.

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