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Jafza continues to fuel growth of India-UAE trade as second CEPA anniversary nears

Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) is emerging as the powerhouse driving the unprecedented growth of India-UAE trade, with a 28% year-on-year surge in new Indian businesses setting up in the trade and logistics hub.

DP World’s flagship economic zone has seen 190 new companies from India established in 2023, bringing the total number of Indian businesses in Jafza up by 15% year-on-year to over 1,500.

The surge in customers was announced following a series of Jafza trade events in Mumbai and Hyderabad that were held in coordination with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the UAE-India Business Council (UIBC).

Bharat Mart, whose foundation stone was laid in February 2024 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, took the spotlight at the events.

Scheduled to open in 2026, Bharat Mart will allow Indian traders to reach local and international customers in the Middle East, Africa and Europe by providing comprehensive supply chain solutions that integrate retail, warehousing, and logistics services into one streamlined operation. The project has generated nearly 3,000 business leads in less than one month.

“We’ve received overwhelming interest from Indian businesses who are keen to establish a presence in Jafza and leverage our world-class infrastructure, network and market access. With Bharat Mart, we will continue to revolutionise trade, opening new pathways that strengthen economic partnerships and facilitate seamless global commerce.”

Abdulla Al Hashmi, Chief Operating Officer, Parks & Zones at DP World GCC

The gathering also shed light on the flourishing trade ties between the UAE and India since the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was inked in May 2022. The landmark agreement eliminated tariffs for Indian traders, creating an open and efficient environment for cross-border trade.

As a testament to the agreement’s success, bilateral non-oil trade between the UAE and India reached $50.5 billion in the first year of CEPA, a 5.8% annual increase. The goal is to further boost non-oil trade to $100 billion by 2030.

The CEPA’s effectiveness is boosted by DP World’s India-UAE Trade Bridge initiative launched in 2019, which streamlines shipping between the two nations, reducing costs and time and generating new business opportunities in sectors like manufacturing, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare.

Al Hashmi added: “Despite the ongoing challenges in the international trade network, our collaborative initiatives with India have led to a notable increase in trade between our two nations. Jafza has been key to this success, and our focus now is on sustaining this growth by empowering Indian businesses and promoting a strong trade ecosystem, reinforcing our commitment to economic prosperity.”

Jafza currently serves over 10,000 companies from 130 countries, with 87% of UAE’s non-oil trade with India coming through Dubai. Indian companies represent the second largest partners in terms of trade volume and are fourth in terms of trade value at Jafza.

Jafza links businesses to Jebel Ali’s new Agri Terminals facility, which broke ground in February 2024. The AED 550 million complex will establish the largest multi-tenant facility in Dubai for storing and processing grains for both domestic consumption and export to the wider region.  The first phase of the project is scheduled for completion in early 2025. Together, the Port and Free Zone offer a comprehensive logistics solution that can help Indian companies thrive.

DP World is significantly investing in India to create a leading integrated logistics network, including five port terminals and developing three free trade zones, positioning itself as the country’s top free trade zone operator and developer.

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