Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday left for the United Arab Emirates after concluding his two-day visit to France. Modi, who was the guest of honour at France’s Bastille Day celebrations, was conferred with the country’s highest civilian and military honour, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour.
Describing the visit as a memorable one, Modi said it gave him immense pride to watch the Indian contingent get a “pride of place” in the Bastille Day parade. “I am grateful to President @EmmanuelMacron and the French people for the exceptional warmth and hospitality. May India-France friendship continue to soar! Modi tweeted.
During the visit, Modi held wide-ranging talks with Macron and French CEOs to discuss avenues to improve partnership between the two countries. In his address to the Indian diaspora on Thursday, Modi announced the launch of India’s United Payment Interface (UPI) in France. He also announced the opening of a new Indian consulate in the port town of Marseilles, and added that Indian students pursuing a masters degrees in France will be granted five-year post-study work visas. Macron on Friday hosted a banquet dinner for Prime Minister Modi at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Defence cooperation will remain a strong pillar of the India-France relationship, both countries asserted. India and France on Friday vowed to build a balanced and stable order in the strategic Indo-Pacific region. The two countries released an ‘India-France Indo-Pacific Roadmap’ in the wake of growing concerns over China’s assertiveness in the region.
Modi in UAE
The prime minister’s trip to Abu Dhabi, after the France visit, will mark the completion of the triad. During his two-day visit, Modi will hold talks with Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi.
According to reports, defence, energy and food security will be the key areas of focus during Modi’s visit and the countries will review the progress of the UAE-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA)—the landmark trade agreement inked in 2022. The UAE has also pledged $2 billion to help develop a series of “food parks” in India to tackle food insecurity in South Asia and the Middle East, Reuters reported.
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi said that its economic partnership with India is a significant milestone in the history of both countries. Speaking in an interview, Zeyoudi further said that the CEPA has delivered new growth opportunities for India and the UAE by “removing or reducing tariffs on 80 per cent of goods, eliminating unnecessary barriers to trade and opening government procurement to each other’s private sector,” ANI reported.
Zeyoudi highlighted the UAE’s investments in industry, healthcare and logistics and also stressed on the proposed renewable energy projects including a 300-megawatt hybrid energy plant.
Zeyoudi added that the UAE-India non-oil trade is expected to reach $100 billion a year by 2030.
This is Modi’s fifth trip to the Gulf country since assuming office in 2014.
India and the UAE may announce the start of a rupee-dirham payment mechanism to settle bilateral trade during Modi’s visit on Saturday, sources told Reuters. If this mechanism comes into play, India could avoid dollar conversions and use this pay for oil as well as other imports from the UAE. Bilateral trade between India and UAE was $84.5 billion in 2022 -23.