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US, India, UAE, Israel announce creation of I2U2 joint business coalition

The new coalition will see officials and business councils from the four countries collaborate to attract private sector partners to the I2U2 initiative.
 The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan (L) walks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of a meeting in New Delhi on January 25, 2017. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is on an official visit to India and will be the guest of honour at the country's forthcoming Republic Day celebrations. / AFP / Money SHARMA (Photo credit should read MONEY SHARMA/AFP via Getty Images)

Senior officials from the United States, India, Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) oversaw on Wednesday the signing of a memorandum of understanding to create a joint business coalition to promote the so-called I2U2 initiative, a partnership focused on economic development and food security amid global climate change.

The new coalition will see officials and business councils from the countries work together to attract private sector partners to the initiative. 

The agreement was signed in Washington on Wednesday in the presence of US Undersecretary of State Jose Fernandez, Indian Deputy Chief of Mission to the United States Sripriya Ranganathan, Israeli Deputy Chief of Mission to the United States Eliav Benjamin and UAE Ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba.

A statement from the US-UAE Business Council on Wednesday said the memorandum will focus on promoting the initiative and garnering private sector support for it. The UAE-India Business Council, the UAE-Israel Business Council and the US-UAE Business Council are the main signatories on the agreement.

When US President Joe Biden was on his visit to the Middle East in July 2022, heads of state for the governments from the I2U2 group met virtually for the first time to focus on joint investments and initiatives in energy, food security, health, space, transportation and water. They announced a couple of investments after the meeting, including a $2 billion investment by the UAE to develop integrated food parks in India.

The I2U2 group held its first business forum in Abu Dhabi in February, which brought together politicians and the private sector to discuss partnerships. 

Wednesday's memorandum aims to deepen technological and private sector collaboration between the four nations. The countries agreed to convene a series of events in India, Israel, the UAE and the United States with key government officials to draw attention to the I2U2 initiative and bring greater awareness to its potential for the business community in each of the four countries.

Under the memorandum, the business councils will also establish virtual working group meetings of key businesses in those six focus sectors of the initiative. The countries also agreed to publish a series of studies and white papers by leading American, Emirati, Indian and Israeli think tanks, scholars and thought leaders about the potential for I2U2. 

The agreement will also see the creation of a series of video interviews about the I2U2 initiative that can be jointly shared on their platforms. 

A spokesperson for the US-UAE Business Council told Al-Monitor that future meetings are being planned to take place between May and the Fall in Israel, India and the UAE.

"The main focus this year will be on the energy sector: sustainable energy, renewable energy, efficient energy, as a build-up to the COP 28 summit happening end of the year in the UAE, which we are heavily involved in," the spokesperson added.

Faizal Kottikollan, chairman of the UAE-India Business Council, said in a statement that the organization was “committed to rally” its members’ support of the new business coalition.

Dorian Barak, president of the UAE-Israel Business Council, added, “We’re delighted to be part of this important and far-reaching initiative, which will connect the business community to promote stronger cooperation between the governments of the USA, UAE, India and Israel. Commerce is the strongest foundation for successful I2U2 engagement, which is emerging as an important pillar of regional economic integration.”

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