New Delhi, May 18 (IANS) In a bid to boost their $57-billion bilateral trade, India and United Arab Emirates (UAE) Friday decided to set up a high-level joint task force to explore investment opportunities, including in the energy sector.
This decision was taken at half-hour talks between India's External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan here.
The task force will be headed by Abu Dhabi Investment Authority Managing Director Sheikh Hamad bin Zayed al Nahyan and India's Commerce, Industries and Textiles Minister Anand Sharma.
The UAE is India's largest trading partner and the fourth largest supplier of crude oil.
"I am happy to inform you that the two governments have decided to set up a high level joint task force to explore further opportunities in investments," Krishna told reporters here after the meeting with the UAE foreign minister.
The joint task force will certainly explore further opportunities in all areas of investment, including the energy security sector, he said.
This is the third meeting that Krishna has hand with Abdullah in one year now and at Friday's meeting their focus was on economic ties between India and UAE.
Krishna said India's economy being one of the fastest growing in the world, the need for increased import of oil and other energy sources is of extreme critical importance to New Delhi.
"In UAE, we have a dependable supplier of oil which India needs so badly," he said.
In 2010, India imported 12 million tonnes of crude oil and in 2011, it increased to 14 million tonnes.
"So this should be the indication at the rate at which our imports from the UAE is going up. It is basically our refineries which make decisions on import of oil and they are based on technical, economical and commercial considerations," he added.
Krishna noted that UAE had an advantage on all these fronts and it is likely that "the trend of the UAE continuing to meet our needs of energy security will remain."
The two leaders also discussed the possibilities of cooperating in not only in increasing oil trade, but also investment opportunities in this sector.
Abdullah, acknowledging that India was an important ally and a booming economy, said he was "very delighted" over the agreement between the two nations on having the joint task force with very senior officials heading them from both sides.
"We are working together not only in developing our investments in India, but looking at future investments," he said.
Abdullah noted that UAE, being one of the largest exporters of crude oil, was also trying to improve its capacity in terms of production and exports.
"Looking at many of our strategic plans, we not only try to increase exports, but also look at diversifying our own ways of where we use our own resources. That's why we invest heavily in renewable energy and we are trying to invest in nuclear energy, so we can offset further our capacity to the world market," he said.
"No doubt, we would like to see more UAE energy exports to India, especially when it comes to crude oil," he said.
Noting that officials from both sides were in talks in this regard, Abdullah noted that UAE would like to see its presence in "downstream investments" in India in petrochemicals, energy and similar sectors.
"I think there is a lot we could do. There is a potential of $1 trillion investments in India in the next five years and India is looking for half of that amount coming from abroad and we would like to see a strong UAE presence in that," he added.