The Gulf is increasing its diplomatic weightage globally. The maximum acceleration has been by the UAE, which is leveraging its advantages of economy, location, and connectivity to position itself as a key regional and geopolitical facilitator.
Trade-shy India is now energetically embarking on a series of trade agreements to boost exports, remove barriers for skilled Indian professionals and secure imports of essential raw materials for manufacturing growth. New trade agreements signed with Australia, the UAE and soon the U.K. will be templates for more to come.
India is stepping into a new era of free trade agreements in the midst of turbulent global waters that bring both risks and opportunities. A fragile global recovery can dampen demand for India’s goods, but it can also attract medium and high-tech manufacturing sectors leaving China, benefit from technology and skill transfer from abroad and lay a strong foundation for growth.
The Ukraine crisis has sent the EU scrambling for new gas supplies, generating fresh interest in gas pipelines from Central Asia and West Asia via Turkey. Practical difficulties make most of these new projects unviable.
Indians are the largest expatriate community in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Their contribution to building that nation is being celebrated this year, which is also the UAE’s golden jubilee year. Cultural fluency built on centuries-old trade and migration makes it easier for Indians and Gulf Arabs to collaborate.
The Quad has agreed to launch a satellite-based maritime security initiative to curb illegal fishing by China. India is a global leader in satellite launches, especially in Earth Observation (EO) satellites. The Indo-Pacific nations are looking at the Indian model because it is applicable, economical, and sustainable.
On February 18, India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). This is a modern trade agreement with its roots in the erstwhile Bombay Presidency’s administration of the nine Emirati kingdoms.
Financial intermediaries are critical lubricants for business, growth and development. The Indo-Pacific countries are industrializing, but smaller nations lag behind economically. The Quad countries can aid the advancement of the financial architecture in the Indo-Pacific by helping to develop an ecosystem, modelled on the examples of Japan and India.
Renewable energy is trendy, but still unreliable at this early stage. Countries will find it necessary to fall back on traditional energy sources like coal and oil for their needs, and this can lead to energy price spikes. To protect itself from this scenario, now is the time for energy-dependent India to set up a wealth fund that invests in listed oil companies around the world, to reduce the risk of energy insecurity.
After successfully developing Dubai and Abu Dhabi as aerotropoli or cities around an aviation hub the United Arab Emirates aims to become an astropolis, a hub of space tourism and human spaceflight. There is ample scope for UAE to cooperate on this with India, which is also its comprehensive strategic partner.