External Affairs Minister (Shri S.M. Krishna): His Highness, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates; friends from media:
This is for the third time His Highness, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates and I are meeting in less than a year. It is an indication of the priority that each of us accords to our bilateral relations.
Today we focused particularly on our economic ties. We discussed the forthcoming 3rd India-Arab Economic Conclave to be hosted in Abu Dhabi on 21st and 22nd May 2012 and the proposed Road Show on investment in Abu Dhabi and Dubai that Indian officials intend to undertake in June so as to exchange information and clarify issues related to the investment climate in India.
The United Arab Emirates is our largest trading partner, significant contributor to our energy security, and hosts about 1.75 million Indian expatriates.
The United Arab Emirates’ leadership is now keen to address the issue of investments to bring it on par with the multi-faceted relations we enjoy in all other sectors. I am happy to inform you that the two Governments have decided to set up a High Level Joint Task Force to explore further opportunities in the area of investments.
His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Zayed al Nahyan, the Managing Director of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, and our Commerce, Industries and Textiles Minister Shri Anand Sharma will be leading the respective sides of the High Level Task Force.
Our bilateral relations have now acquired a new momentum and are progressing towards a comprehensive partnership for the mutual benefit of our countries.
Official Spokesperson (Shri Syed Akbaruddin): I now request His Excellency the Foreign Minister of the UAE to make his opening remarks.
Foreign Minister of UAE (Mr. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan): Good afternoon.
Dear friend, dear colleague Mr. Krishna, I am very honoured to be back here in Delhi and visiting India. The relationship between our two countries prolongs for a period prior to the existence of our two nations as we know them now. The people-to-people relations between our two countries have been there for centuries, and we are very eager that we can even further facilitate this relationship in all means and forms.
It is extremely important to see the frequent flights between our two countries. The trade is extending to 50 billion dollars this year. The UAE is the fourth largest supplier of crude oil to India. We have almost two million Indians visiting and living in the UAE. We are very proud of that. I think there is a lot we could do. I am very delighted that both our Governments have reached an agreement on having a Joint Investment Task Force with very senior officials on both sides. We are working together not only in developing our investments in India but in looking at future investments in India.
India is not only a very important ally and a neighbour to the UAE but it is a booming economy worldwide. There is potential of one trillion dollar of investment in India in the next five years. India is looking for half of that amount to come from abroad. We would very much like to see a strong UAE presence in that.
Minister, you visited the UAE on the 16th of April. We had a very good visit. You rightly mentioned that this is our third meeting in the last year. It is extremely important that we keep in touch on bilateral relationship between our two countries but also in exchanging our views in a very dynamic region that both of us live in.
I am sure we will have even more time during lunch to discuss developments in the peace process between Israel and Palestine, discuss the Iran nuclear file, discuss the security in the Arabian Gulf, discuss the very vibrant and developing relationship in the last couple of months which we are very much pleased about between Pakistan and India, discuss the future of Afghanistan.
We will also have the opportunity to talk about the importance of securing maritime access in the Gulf of Aden, stabilizing and supporting the Government in Somalia. So, there is a huge agenda in front of us both on investment, trade but also on security and political matters.
Your Excellency, once again thank you very much for your kind words, and thank you very much for your robust support for the relationship between our two countries. I really hope that we could meet again soon and report to the media even further developments in the relationship.
Official Spokesperson: The two Ministers have agreed to take a few questions.
Question (Mr. N.C. Bipindra, IANS): This question is to the Indian External Affairs Minister.
There have been plans of increasing oil imports from the UAE. Have you discussed this issue with your counterpart? What was the result of it?
External Affairs Minister: India’s economy is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. As a result of that, the need for increased import of oil and other energy sources is of extreme critical importance to us. And in the United Arab Emirates we have a dependable supplier of oil which India needs so badly.
In 2010, we imported 12 million tonnes, and in 2011 we increased it to 14 million tonnes. So, this should be the indication of the rate at which our imports from the UAE are going up. It is basically our refineries which make decisions on import of oil, and they are based on technical, economical and commercial considerations. Given the United Arab Emirates’ advantages on all these fronts, it is likely that this trend of the UAE continuing to meet our needs of energy security will be maintained.
We also discussed the possibilities of cooperating not only on increase in oil imports but also investment opportunities in this sector. The Task Force on Investments, we will certainly look into this matter also.
Question (Ms. Shohrat Aref, MENA): The UAE is an important source of energy to India. Do you intend to increase your exports to India in the coming period?
Foreign Minister of UAE: As you know, the UAE is a large exporter of crude oil, and we keep on trying to improve our capacity when it comes to production and export. Looking at many of our strategic plans, we do not only try to increase our exports but also to diversify our own ways where we use our own resources. That is why we invest very heavily in renewable energies, we are trying to invest in nuclear energy so we can offset further our capacity to the world market.
No doubt, we would like to see more UAE energy exports to India, especially when it comes to crude oil. I believe as we speak, there are talks between our officials and they are looking at these venues. But even further, as Mr. Krishna rightly mentioned, we would like to see a UAE presence in downstream investments in India when it comes to petrochemical, energy production, etc. It is not only a step that we would like to take today but there are several steps down the road that we would like to develop among our two countries.
Question (Mr. Ashok Sharma): Given the existing cooperation between the two countries, I would like to ask the two Ministers, is there any possibility of jointly tackling the maritime pirates in a very specific manner?
External Affairs Minister: We attach great importance to working with all other countries including the United Arab Emirates to counter the scourge of piracy on the high seas. When I visited Abu Dhabi last month, we had very extensive discussions on this issue. Both of us have agreed that our officials will work together and cooperate on tackling this menace collectively. We intend to share our knowledge, our intelligence, and cooperate effectively on this issue with the United Arab Emirates so that we as a group could tackle this scourge.
Foreign Minister of UAE: Resolving piracy will not come unless we can resolve Somalia. It is very important that at a time when we face piracy in the Gulf of Aden and beyond actually, which I am very much pleased that the UAE and India are working very closely on, its key where we can resolve the source of this problem which is the lack of government, of unity, of the void that has been created in Somalia. We are working very closely with the Central Government in Mogadishu but also with the local governments in Somalia where we could further not only help and support but try to get them together, and beyond by engaging with the African Union, in helping Somalia, in supporting many of their difficulties let alone poverty and drought. But beyond that, where we can help them building their capacity in every way and form. That is the only way where we can make sure that the source of piracy is resolved. And here also the help and the cooperation between our two countries to Somalia and to the African Union is vital and key.
Question (Ms. Geeta Mohan, Times Now): My question is to the External Affairs Minister of India. It is on a very different issue, Sir.
Over a thousand of Indians are stranded in Angola. What has the Government been doing on this entire matter? Also, what is the message on the police brutality against the Indians in Angola when the Ambassador met with the Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs yesterday?
External Affairs Minister: I am personally following issues related to the problems that the Indian workers unfortunately are facing in Angola. It is engaging our most serious attention. I am sure that all efforts will be made to ensure a swift resolution of the issues involved. And those workers who want to come back to India I think that could be arranged swiftly and without any difficulty. We have done it before elsewhere, and we are willing to do it here in Angola. About their financial transactions, and their compensation and whatever it is, I think we will be taking it up with the company concerned, the employer. And I hope that we should be able to resolve the issue.
Official Spokesperson: With that, we come to the end of this event.
Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.
May 18, 2012