India-UAE Food Dialogue discusses enhancing bilateral food security

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Industry experts speaking at the India-UAE Food Dialogue said that the increased cooperation on food security between the two nations and the UAE-India Food Corridor are the two main factors projected to increase bilateral trade and investment in the future.

On the sidelines of India International Food & Agri Week, the virtual event which was recently co-organized by the Mumbai office of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) was attended by 310 participants from India, the UAE and other sectors including businessmen, industry stakeholders and policymakers.

Presentations and discussions held during the event explored the strengthening of the economic partnership between the UAE and India and the increasing importance of food security to the strategic vision of the UAE, while panel members said that India has a lot to contribute in this region as the country is on its way to becoming the food basket of the world.

Commenting on investment opportunities for infrastructure, operations, logistics and sourcing for the UAE-India Food Corridor, Industry experts revealed that the UAE-India Food Corridor project is expected to see $7 billion in UAE investment in the construction of dedicated logistics infrastructure linking farms to ports in India. It further added that the initiative has the potential to triple the food trade between India and the UAE over the next five years.

The India-UAE Food Dialogue provided participants with useful insights into UAE-India trade relations that have grown and strengthened since the two countries declared a comprehensive strategic partnership which is a major step that has paved the way for increased cooperation across several industries and fields, said Omar Khan, Director of International Offices at the Dubai Chamber.

Given the evolving trade dynamics and global supply chain disruptions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Khan noted that it is important that the UAE and India work together to strengthen food security and further remarked the UAE-India Food Corridor will be a key joint initiative to take UAE-India relations to the next level and significantly boost bilateral non-oil trade.

Dubai can unlock this potential as a preferred trading center for Indian businesses by offering many competitive advances, such as its world-class logistics and transport infrastructure, as well as a strategic geographical position that enables Indian food exporters to extend their scope across the GCC markets.

Mr. Khan noted that the representative office of the Dubai Chamber in India has a crucial role to play in building bridges of cooperation between the UAE and the Indian business community.

Piruz Khambatta, Chairman of the CII National Special Abilities Committee and CII Ease of Doing Business Task Force & Chairman & Managing Director, Rasna International, shared his views on other major pipeline initiatives aimed at boosting India’s food trade, including new bills introduced to empower Indian farmers by providing them with direct market access, self-reliant India initiative packages providing benefits, subsidies and low-interest loans for the food sector.

Mr. Khambatta stated that logistics costs remain a key challenge for fresh fruit and vegetable traders in India, but continued that the time and costs associated with food transport are expected to be reduced by planned infrastructure improvements.