On Friday, the flourishing ties between India and UAE were put on display for the world to see. New Delhi and Abu Dhabi signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which is set to reduce tariffs for 80 per cent of goods and give zero duty access to 90 per cent of India’s exports to the UAE. The agreement is going to boost the volume of trade between the two countries to $100 billion within five years of its adoption, up from about $60 billion currently.
Called the “Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement” or ‘CEPA’, the FTA will boost India’s exports to the Gulf nation in a number of labour-oriented sectors including gems and jewellery, textiles, leather, footwear, sports goods, engineering goods, and pharmaceuticals. According to Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, “annual exports worth about $26 billion from India that currently attract a 5-per cent import duty in the UAE are set to benefit.”
Big Jolt to Pakistan and Imran Khan
For several years now, the Arab world has been bailing Pakistan’s joke of an economy out. You see, Pakistan is a perpetually bankrupt and debt-ridden country. So, it has adopted a strategy of repaying debts by taking upon its head more debt, albeit from different countries. The Arab world – especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have lost patience with Islamabad.
Pakistan’s ties with the Arab world are on a continuous downward spiral. The UAE is Pakistan’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and a major source of investments and remittances. The trade volume between the two countries amounted to around $8.19 billion in the year 2019.
By contrast, the UAE is India’s third-largest trade partner after the United States and China. Yet, the two countries are eyeing a cumulative trade volume of $100 billion in the next five years. When compared to Pakistan and UAE’s meagre $9 billion trade partnership, it does not take an astronomical genius to realise that Islamabad is an insignificant entity for Abu Dhabi.
With its trade ties growing with India, UAE will be encouraged not to enhance cooperation with Pakistan. New Delhi’s stance has been clear – countries either have to choose India or Pakistan. For those who continue maintaining significant interests and trade ties with Islamabad, India makes no bones about its discomfort with such partnerships.
Read more: The reinvigorated India-Israel-UAE bonhomie is a massive jolt to Turkey and Pakistan
So, Imran Khan is in for quite a ride now. The UAE will systematically cut down its trade ties with Pakistan, as its relations with India score a multi-billion-dollar upswing.
India and UAE Agree to Fight Terrorism and Extremism
On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed held a virtual summit after the signing of the FTA between India and UAE. They once again reaffirmed their joint commitment to the fight against extremism and terrorism, including cross-border terrorism at both regional and international levels. This was a direct attack on Pakistan because it is the only country in the region that pushes cross-border terrorism into India.
In fact, the UAE has comprehensively rejected Pakistan’s incessant Kashmir-centric attacks on India. Pakistan continuously tries to galvanise support for the Kashmir issue among Arab countries but is snubbed every single time.
The United Arab Emirates, for one, has even come forward and started investing in Kashmir. In the past few months, the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir and the UAE have signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) for building strong business relations between them. The UAE is helping India develop Jammu & Kashmir with industrial parks, super speciality hospitals and other infrastructure projects in the Union Territory.
Ties between India and UAE are growing from strength to strength, and Pakistan has no choice but to sulk in a dark and depressing corner.
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