India asks UAE to invest in oil and infrastructure sectors

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Dubai, May 13 (UNI) External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today called on the business community in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), including NRIs, to invest in the development of infrastructure as well as oil and natural gas sectors in India.

Addressing the Indian business community at a function here today, Mr Mukherjee said inadequate infrastructure was the biggest impediment to achieving and sustaining annual economic growth of around 10 per cent for the country.

''We anticipate that India would need around 500 billion dollars worth of investment in infrastructure in the coming years and we are engaged in the task of mobilizing it internally and from partners in different parts of the world,'' Mr Mukherjee said.

He said that a massive programme of public investment has been initiated and the involvement of private participants, from India and abroad, is welcome in this endeavour.

''India invites companies of the UAE to play a major role in the development of its infrastructure. There are many opportunities for investment in the entire value chain for petroleum, including refining, product pipelines, storage and retail as well as for natural gas,'' Mr Mukherjee said.

Through its economic and social openness and respect for multi-culturalism, Dubai and the UAE are models for the region, he said adding that it was India's intention to continue to build and promote close relations with the United Arab Emirates.

In terms of purchasing power parity, India's GDP was estimated at 4.73 trillion dollars by the World Bank in 2007, making it the third largest economy in the world. The Foreign Direct Investment in the country in 2006-07 amounted to 23 billion dollars. In the same year, outward investment from India shot up to 14.4 billion dollars.

The bilateral trade between India and UAE reached a record figure of 21 billion dollars last year, dominating the trade of 47 billion dollars with the entire GCC. India's exports of 12 billion dollars in 2006-07 to UAE constitute a 40 per cent increase over the previous year's figures.

Mr Mukherjee said for years, Indians have been encouraged and have felt secure in setting up their business centres in the UAE.

''Over 12,000 firms and companies registered in Dubai have Indian ownership. Around 19 per cent of the companies in Sharjah are Indian entities. India leads all other countries in the world in the number of industries that have set up operations in the Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone, Al Hamariya Free Trade Zone of Sharjah and the Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone,'' he added.

The Minister said the visit of Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE to India in March 2007 gave a major fillip to our bilateral relations and to enhancing its economic content and the companies from Dubai have led others from the UAE in investing in India.

''I strongly urge investors and entrepreneurs of the Gulf region to avail themselves of the exciting new opportunities in India.

Investments between India and the GCC go beyond the traditional dependence of India for its oil needs on the region and offer enormous new opportunities in knowledge, health and food processing sectors,'' he said.

Mr Mukherjee added that at a time when the global economy faces fresh uncertainty from soaring oil prices, food shortages and slowing-down of economic growth in certain parts of the world, utilization of the complementarities between our two countries could provide further impetus to our growth.

''There are enormous opportunities for profitable ventures between our two countries and we must make continuous efforts to cement the economic foundations of this relationship,'' he said.

As the leading economy of Asia situated in the immediate vicinity of the UAE, India's long term growth is in the interest of UAE and a closer economic engagement would be a wise investment for the future, he added.

UNI XC BJR/MP KN2208

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