NEW DELHI: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday held a meeting with visiting UAE minister for foreign trade Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi and discussed ways to further boost trade and investment relations between both the countries.
"Both sides discussed the strong economic and commercial engagement between the India-UAE and the comprehensive strategic partnership which is driving the multifaceted bilateral relations," the finance ministry said in a statement.
A high-level UAE delegation, led by Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, is in India to hold talks aimed at improving bilateral economic relations, including expanding the existing trade and investment relationship, it said.
The first round of Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiations is under way.
"The regular exchange of high-level bilateral visits even during Covid-19 pandemic reflects close friendship between the two countries," it added.
India and the UAE on Wednesday formally launched negotiations for a CEPA with an early harvest to be concluded by end December, a move aimed at boosting trade and investments between the countries.
The two countries also look to sign a formal agreement, officially dubbed as CEPA, in March 2022 after the completion of internal legal procedures and ratification.
The UAE is currently India's third-largest trading partner with bilateral trade in 2019-20 valued at $59 billion. The UAE is also India's second-largest export destination after the US, with exports valued at about $29 billion in 2019-20.
India was the UAE's second-largest trading partner in 2019, with bilateral non-oil trade valued at $41 billion. The UAE is the eighth-largest investor in India, having invested $11 billion between April 2000 and March 2021, while investment by Indian companies in the UAE is estimated to be over $85 billion.
India's major exports to the UAE include petroleum products, precious metals, stones, gems and jewellery, minerals, food items such as cereals, sugar, fruits and vegetables, tea, meat, and seafood, textiles, engineering and machinery products, and chemicals.
Imports from the UAE include petroleum and petroleum products, precious metals, stones, gems and jewellery, minerals, chemicals and wood and wood products.
India imported $10.9 billion of crude oil from the UAE in 2019-2020.
Under a free trade agreement, two trading partners reduce or eliminate customs duties on the maximum number of goods traded between them. Besides, they liberalise norms to enhance trade in services and boost investments.