• Four-day tour of India’s commercial capital follows historic UAE visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
  • Senior DIFC delegation to meet business decision makers including representatives of Indian banks, law firms, wealth and asset managers
  • DIFC 10-year growth strategy complements Indian government’s own foreign and economic development priorities

Mumbai – MENA Herald – Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is the ideal gateway for Indian investors to the Middle East, Africa and South Asia – a region worth an estimated US$7.9 trillion in annual trade – and the engine driving ever-closer economic ties between India and the UAE, its third largest trading partner.

That will be the message a top DIFC delegation will deliver to decision makers across the Indian business community, including representatives of the banking, legal, wealth management and asset management sectors, when they visit the country’s commercial capital, Mumbai, on August 24-27.

The four-day tour follows an historic visit to the UAE by Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week, the first official visit by a serving Indian prime minister since Indira Gandhi in 1981.

Trade, energy and security are driving modern India-UAE relations, and DIFC envisages a major role for India’s business community as it seeks to triple the size of its operations over the next 10 years.

“Dubai needs little introduction to India, but the continued evolution of DIFC is opening the door to new markets and fresh opportunities for the Indian economy and its burgeoning private sector,” said Arif Amiri, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the DIFC Authority.

Bilateral trade between India and the UAE crossed US$59 billion for the financial year 2014-2015, with Indian exports to the UAE, India’s top export destination, valued at US$33 billion.

UAE-based non-resident Indians (NRIs) account for US$15 billion in annual remittances, own more than 40,000 UAE companies and hold investments in the country worth an estimated $55 billion, including as much as US$18 billion in real estate.

Meanwhile, UAE investments in India stand at around US$8 billion, of which US$3 billion is Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and the balance portfolio investment.

DIFC representatives will promote to Indian investors and the wider Indian financial sector the stability, efficiency and world-class regulation offered by an advanced business ecosystem located at the heart of the MEASA region, a vast economic area with an estimated combined GDP of US$7.9 trillion.

“Our visit will highlight DIFC’s status as an internationally recognised platform that is stimulating trade and investment in the emerging economies of the South-South corridor as well as connecting businesses with established overseas markets. The scale of our growth strategy shows that the opportunities for India are vast,” added Amiri.

DIFC’s visit to Mumbai is seen as a critical step in the implementation of the Centre’s ambitious 2024 growth plan, complementing the Modi administration’s own foreign and economic policy agenda.

Under the strategy, DIFC aims to increase its assets under management to US$250 billion from US$10.4 billion today, host 1,000 financial services firms, up from its current tally of 365, more than double its workforce to 50,000, and grow its balance sheet from US$65 billion to US$400 billion.

Indian financial firms have the largest presence at DIFC after the United States and the UK. In addition, more full banking licences have been issued to Indian banks than to banks from any other country represented at the Centre, a total of eight.

At least 20 leading Indian banks have opened at DIFC, including State Bank of India, ICICI Bank, Punjab National Bank, Union Bank of India and Axis Bank. A growing number of Indian financial services firms have also moved to the Centre in recent years.

Companies such as Aditya Birla Sun Life Asset Management, IL&FS Global Financial Services, IIFL Private Wealth Management and Kotak Mahindra Financial Services benefit from the platform DIFC provides to access the UAE’s non-resident Indian community, an estimated 2.6 million people.

Earlier this year, Gulf Petrochem (GP), a multinational energy company, together with asset and wealth management services provider Gateway Investments, launched India’s first real estate fund under DIFC’s Exempt Fund, a product offering access to a well-diversified portfolio of ‘Grade A’ property assets in the country.

DIFC and Dubai-based Indian banks also hosted a high-level Indian business delegation to discuss the potential of Gujarat International Financial and Tech City, billed as India’s first ‘smart city’, for further economic cooperation between India and the UAE.

Amiri added: “Led by a pro-business government, India has introduced a series of economic reforms that are expected to deliver GDP growth of 8-9% over the next two fiscal years. We aim to provide a platform for the NRI community seeking new markets and territories by presenting our own exciting growth story. We are confident this will open up new areas of potential collaboration between the financial capitals of Dubai and Mumbai.”