UAE Minister of Economy HE Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri and UK Minister of State for Trade and Investment Lord Stephen Green inaugurated the UAE-UK Forum in Fairmont Bab Al Bahr Hotel Abu Dhabi. Attended by Chief Executives, the Forum was co-chaired by His Excellency Nasser Ahmed Alsowaidi, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED), and Samir Brikho, Chief Executive of AMEC PLC.
The Forum’s objective is to pursue the goals of the two friendly countries to boost the bilateral relations in areas of economy, trade and investment, which can be achieved by increasing the volume of trade exchange between the two nations to 12 billion pounds sterling by 2012. To this end, necessary measures shall be taken to make a number of facilities and incentives available which, in turn, will remove obstacles and open promising investment links in the various strategic sectors.
Scheduled to take place twice a year, the Forum, which coincides with the Joint Economic Committee held tomorrow, discussed means of developing small to medium size enterprises and promoting the role of multinational companies. The Forum’s participants also proposed new domains of joint cooperation that will benefit both nations economically commercially. Moreover, they tackled the opportunities available for the British and UAE companies to work together in global markets.
For his part, UK Minister of State for Trade and Investment Stephen Green hailed the Forum that was attended by a huge number of businessmen and investors and supervised by high-ranking officials from the two countries. “Through this Forum, we’re looking forward to attaining the goals we’ve set together to bolster the economic and commercial relations between the 2 friendly countries. This will eventually open up new horizons of cooperation.” Lord Green said.
Lord Green called on the participants to make best use of the facilities provided by the 2 governments to open new vital domains in a bid to speed up the trade exchange rate and expand the spheres of joint ventures.
In his speech, HE Nasser Alsowaidi, DED chairman, stressed the importance of this Forum, which is held for the first time in Abu Dhabi, in developing the business sector in both countries. “The Forum creates a perfect climate for exploring possible opportunities, exchanging ideas and discussing all issues aiming at reinforcing means of cooperation and trade ties.” His Excellency said. “The Forum also cements the bilateral relations and promotes investments between the two countries.”
“The Forum reflects the desire of the two governments to build long-term economic relations in the fields of finance, trade and politics. And we want our partnership with the UK to reveal how far the great historic ties between the two countries have reached.” His Excellency added.
He noted that more than a million British citizens visit the UAE every year and around 100.000 British nationals are living in the UAE, something which helped the number of British companies to mount to 4,000. Those companies contributed significantly to the most distinguished development projects in the UAE such as Burj Khalifa, Yas Island, Formula 1 Circuit, and other outstanding projects in the petroleum and gas sector.
Meanwhile, Alsowaidi added that the UAE is one of the most important countries investing in the UK’s economy as businessmen have invested in many British projects and companies creating lots of job opportunities in London Gateway, Dubai Ports World, and London Matrix. He also pointed out that the UAE is still Britain’s largest importing partner in the Middle East for the volume of trade exchange between the two countries reached 7.8 billion pounds sterling in 2009.In his speech, HE Chairman of the DED pointed to the sound leadership of the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister and Vice President of the UAE and the ruler of Dubai as well as General Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. He said that the UAE leadership has always been keen on strengthening the strategic partnership with the United Kingdom, noting that this tendency was put into action by signing a Memorandum of Understanding as regards trade economic cooperation and working towards increasing total bilateral trade to a target of 12 billion pounds sterling by 2015.His Excellency said that Abu Dhabi event is a step forward toward achieving the desired goals of the two countries. He added that a new step has been taken to consolidate mutual cooperation through the participation of a number of tycoons from both nations in a bid to establish new enterprises in the following sectors: technology, investment, development and knowledge. “This event also gives the private sector the opportunity to meet with the decision-makers from both sides.” His Excellency said.He asserted that both governments are aware of the fact that public financing is the driving force of economic growth; however, in order to achieve sustainability and diversity, other means are required. This can be fulfilled if the private sector takes part in this development process, provided that the government supports the local and foreign companies.In light of the new phase of development which the UAE is witnessing, His Excellency said that the local and foreign companies should derive maximum benefit from this tendency and make best use of the available opportunities especially those related to the sectors of trade, industry, information communication and technology.
HE Nasser Alsowaidi, Abu Dhabi DED chairman, expressed hope that this Forum would bring the private sectors and businessmen in the UAE and the UK more closer which, in turn, would meet the governments’ aspirations and achieve its futuristic goals.
For his part, Mr. Samir Brikho, head of the British delegation considered the UAE-UK Forum as a perfect chance for the two countries’ businessmen to take the initiative of shaping the future of the bilateral trade relations. “Through the Forum, we’ll work on advancing strategic partnerships and putting innovative programs into effect.” Brikho said.
The press release issued by the Forum highlighted that this event is a quantum leap in the long-term partnership between the UAE and the UK as it represents an integral part of the joint agenda of the Higher Committee that aims at cementing the economic and trade relations between the two countries.
The release indicated that in October 2009 the two governments drew up an ambitious plan to increase the bilateral trade by 60% by the year 2015. In July 2010, a Joint Committee was set up under the chairmanship of the UAE Foreign Minister and his British counterpart. That was a part of the Gulf Initiative launched by the British government to boost its relations with all the member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which emphasizes the importance of the UAE as a gateway to this objective.
According to the press release, the Committee focused on the bilateral relations including a wide range of sectors such as trade, investment, defense, security, energy, climate change, culture, education, health, sports, international development, foreign policy, and consular relations.
It indicated that the UAE is the UK’s largest market in the Middle East and that the UAE contributed significantly to the UK’s economy through giant operations like DP World and London Gateway, in addition to investments in the fields of sports, tourism, exhibitions, aviation and other fields.