Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement: Trade pact with UAE appears to boost agricultural exports


India and the UAE also agreed to expand their cooperation through increased bilateral food and agricultural trade and responsible foreign investment in agriculture and food systems.

India’s new Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with the United Arab Emirates will be a boost for exporters of buffalo meat, fruits and vegetables, groundnuts, dairy products and assorted processed food products to this West Asian country. The removal or reduction of tariffs under the pact, which will come into force from May, could allow these exporters to gain an advantage over their Brazilian, Australian and Pakistani competitors.

“We will exploit opportunities for expanding exports of buffalo meat, dairy products, cucumbers, pickles, processed foods, alcoholic beverages and natural honey after the signing of CEPA,” M Angamuthu, Chairman of the Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Authority (Apeda), says FE.

The United Arab Emirates is India’s second largest agricultural export destination after Bangladesh. In 2020-21, India‘s agricultural exports to the UAE stood at $1,926 million and in the first three quarters of 2021-2022, exports to the country topped $1,865 million of dollars. Currently, most exports of agricultural products to the UAE are subject to a 5% duty.

Over the past two years, India has faced fierce competition from Brazil, Pakistan and Australia for increased buffalo meat exports to the UAE and competition from China and of Argentina for groundnut exports.

To develop two-way trade in food and agricultural products, CEPA focuses on building infrastructure and dedicated logistics services to connect farms to ports, where products would be exported to the UAE.

India and the UAE also agreed to expand their cooperation through increased bilateral food and agricultural trade and responsible foreign investment in agriculture and food systems. In 2020, India was the top supplier of rice (72.15%), fresh onions (45.84%), fresh grapes (18.7%), ground produce (51.06%), fruit and vegetable seeds (32.16%), guargum (60.33%) and Albumin (17%) in the UAE.

As part of a food security corridor initiative between two countries, Apeda has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Al Dhara Holding SP LLC for the import of food products. Another MoU with DP World FZE will facilitate new Indian food exports.

Apeda has expanded the export basket by adding new products such as pomegranate arils, jackfruit, dragon fruit, drumstick, chilled baby corn, snow peas as well as organic herbs, spices from turmeric, dehydrated vegetables, etc., with a targeted approach to increase the export of millets. The value added product of Jammu and Kashmir saffron has been exported to the United Arab Emirates.

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