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Dubai Expo 2020: India assures reforms as UAE Inc says ready to invest in country – India Today

by Arifa Rana

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Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, who was in the United Arab Emirates to inaugurate the India pavilion at the Dubai Expo 2020, was upbeat about the “phenomenal enthusiasm” shown by potential investors. His statement was supported by top UAE businessmen, who told India Today about their plans to increase investment in India.
Before wrapping up his visit on Tuesday, Piyush Goyal said, ”The visit went way past resolving problems.”
“During the meetings with representatives of UAE govt, business heads and investors, we found phenomenal enthusiasm to invest in India. In fact, it was felt that we may not be able to match up with the speed they come up with ideas,” he added.
Piyush Goyal said that the UAE companies that had “problems” in the past were ready to return to India. “In the India-UAE High-Level Joint Task Force, investment-specific legacy issues will be looked at. I am more concerned about what they had to go through then. They feel that in a couple of cases, they fell wrong with the promoters and in other cases, due diligence should have been there. That’s the cost of learning.”
Read | Interim trade deal with UAE in next 2-3 months: Piyush Goyal on trade, investments at Dubai Expo 2020
India Today TV talked to heads of three UAE-based companies which are looking to re-enter or expand their presence in India in a big way.
Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of DP World, said his talks with Piyush Goyal were encouraging. “We discussed our interests in privatisation, new businesses, industrial parks, logistic parks,” he said.
DP World, which moves 10 per cent of global trade, is interested in disinvestment projects in infrastructure related to cargo in India, Bin Sulayem said.
“We are interested in expanding our ports and industrial parks. We know how important India is as a growth system,” Bin Sulayem said.
DP World has terminals at five ports in India. Bin Sulayem said the company is now interested in entering the supply chain.
“We have invested $2 billion in the last two years and we are deeply interested in scaling up our presence,” he said, adding that the investment could double in the coming years.
Bin Sulayem said in the past, investors used to face bureaucratic hurdles and delayed decisions in India. “Reform process that has been initiated could have been a bit faster but it is extremely encouraging. Being a democracy, it takes time,” he said.
“But the good thing is that India is a country where once they decide, it’s done. That’s what attracts us to India,” he added.
Mohamed Ali Rashed Alabbar, founder and Managing Director of real estate company Emaar Properties, said he discussed developing a mega-sized real estate in India during his talks with Piyush Goyal.
“It is something we have done in Dubai. Indian subcontinent is critical to our growth plan,” Alabbar said.
Alabbar said India would be one of the five big economies that will drive the future growth of the world.
ALSO READ: India Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai to showcase talent, trade, tradition, tourism, technology
“During the 2008-2009 crisis, we did not see any dip in the Indian market. Contrarily, it continued to grow albeit at a slower rate. Also, India will bring real value to regional growth,” he said.
When asked about the problems faced by companies in India, Alabbar said there was a need for open dialogue with the right people in the government to work out obstacles.
Yusuffali MA, Chairman and Managing Director of Lulu Group, credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for bringing policy changes to ease investment by non-residential Indians (NRIs) in India.
“PM Modi changed it all by declaring that NRI investment will be treated as domestic investment,” said Yusuffali, who is originally from Kerala.
“Humko ab taqleef nahin hai. Pehle 100 question tha 100 answer tha. Bohut regulation tha (now we have no issues. Earlier there were 100 questions and answers. Too many regulations were there),” he added.
Yusuffali said Lulu Group was considering around Rs 20,000 crore in the next 3-5 years in India, which would generate employment for 50,000 people.
ALSO READ: Unlimited opportunities, huge investments: India bets big as Expo 2020 Dubai kicks off
Lulu Group is currently building three shopping malls in India, including one in Lucknow, Yusuffali said. “We have built one mall and a convention centre in Kochi. We are now going to different cities in North India,” he said.
“In each shopping mall, 3,500-4,000 people will get employment. Three malls are being built currently which will generate 12,000 jobs,” Yusuffali said.
Yusuffali said job creation was not the responsibility of the government alone. “It’s the responsibility of businesses to provide jobs to young generation,” he said.
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