Ibrahim Al Janahi, Deputy CEO and Chief Commercial Officer Jafza, an official Dubai Week in China partner, explains the free zone’s unique value proposition and its role in China’s Belt and Road initiative
Why does Jafza support DWiC (Dubai Week in China) and participate in the event? What did Jafza do during last year’s event and what was the outcome? What will this year’s highlights be?
Dubai Week in China is a celebration of bilateral trade and exchange of cultural ties between the two countries. The diplomatic relations that began in 1984 have over the years strengthened and DWiC is an extension to this association. Jafza has enjoyed extremely warm business ties with China and we look forward to augmenting them through DWiC. Last year, through our business seminars and meetings, we successfully attracted some of the top Chinese companies to the free zone. This year too, we are conducting seminars and meetings. However, we are taking it a step further by signing Memorandums of Understanding with China Chamber of International Commerce and The Shenzhen Foundation for International Exchange and Cooperation to explore avenues to improve trade and investment.
'Jafza has enjoyed extremely warm business ties with China and we look forward to augmenting them through Dubai Week in China'
How important is Dubai Week in China?
China has been one of the key trade partners of the UAE and Dubai for the past several decades. We enjoy a very robust trade relation, which continues to grow stronger by every passing year. China is at present the biggest trade partner of Jafza, with trade value at US$ 12.6bn in 2015. More than 230 leading Chinese companies in diverse sectors, from oil and gas, electronics, heavy machinery, engineering, construction to automotive, have chosen Jafza as their home. All these companies are serving the entire region through their respective regional headquarters at the Free Zone. Rapid growth in the region provides greater opportunities for Chinese businesses. Our participation in Falcon and Associate’s Dubai Week in China as a key partner aims to attract more Chinese multinationals into the free zone and help them capitalise on the continuously growing opportunities in the region. Expo 2020 in Dubai has given a further boost to developmental activities not only in Dubai and other emirates in the UAE but in all the GCC countries that will be benefiting from more than 25 million visitors coming to Dubai during the six-month expo.
Free zones are an important part of Dubai’s trading environment. What is Jafza’s USP?
Jebel Ali Free Zone accounts for almost 32 per cent of total FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) flow into the country and contributes 21 per cent of Dubai’s GDP year-on-year. This, in itself, speaks volumes about the critical role that Jafza plays in the UAE’s economy. Jafza is the only free zone in the world located between two of the largest trade enablers — Jebel Ali Port, the largest container terminal, and Al Maktoum International Airport, the biggest cargo and passenger airport in the region. This, along with our extensive road network and the upcoming rail project, provide companies with one of the most efficient logistics connectivity.
Jafza also offers incentives to its customers to enable them to do business with greater ease and profitability. These comprise 100 per cent foreign ownership – in comparison to non-free zone areas where majority local partnership is required; zero per cent corporate tax for a period of 50 years, a concession that is renewable; unrestricted repatriation of capital and profits; zero per cent import or re-export duties; zero per cent personal income tax; no currency restrictions and no restriction on hiring foreign employees.
Jafza offers products that are carefully designed and built taking into account the needs of our customers; be it plots of land, warehouses, showrooms, customised development solutions, offices, retail outlets, a business park or even on-site residences.
Jafza has conducted a number of roadshows in China. Tell us more about the importance of these events...
China has been one of Dubai’s most important business partners, with the Asian giant second on the list of countries exporting to the emirate. Under China’s Belt and Road initiative, Dubai, with its strategic geographical location, is emerging as a crucial and resourceful partner in reaching the Middle East and African markets. With this objective, Jafza has organized roadshows in various Chinese cities over the past few years. Today, China stands at the top in terms of trade, with US$12.6bn in 2015. We have over 230 Chinese state and private companies in the free zone. Dubai Week in China is our second promotional tour this year.
In what ways is Jafza contributing to and helping to progress the Belt and Road initiative?
Belt and Road is a multi-million-dollar initiative that extends to international borders and is projected to considerably support seamless trade movement. The success of this project requires cross-border cooperation. While DP World, with its maritime operations in Asia and Europe, is well placed to support the project, Jafza’s integrated, multimodal connectivity and provision of swift processes at various stages of transportation, ie customs and operations, contributes to the efficacy of the whole concept.