Commercial partnerships: boosting foreign trade

While financial centres all over the world are focused on navigating their way out of recession, the UAE is one example of a country resolutely strengthening commercial ties with overseas markets 

During this extended period of economic difficulties, international investors are seeking new and lucrative relationships in regions that they may previously have overlooked.

The UAE’s ability to provide key trading elements, such as a strong pool of expertise, modern technology, and the infrastructure required to connect overseas companies with the 300 million potential customers in the MENA region, is proving attractive. And over the last few months alone, countries that have agreed to strengthen bi-lateral trading with the UAE include Luxembourg, Algeria, Singapore, Norway, and most recently, Australia.

In May, UAE-Australia relations received a boost when the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) announced a strategic partnership with the Australia Gulf Council (AGC). According to the DIFC, the agreement aims to promote and facilitate trade, investment and other opportunities between the two countries.

Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO of the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority, said of the partnership: “This comes in line with our strategy to develop and build relationships with other key market players, further strengthening our position as one of the world’s top financial centres.”

Jonathan Herps, part of the AGC’s advisory board, said: “The MoU will further support the promotion of unexplored investment opportunities and conventional and Islamic finance investment between Australia and the GCC region among potential investors from both sides.”

Australia is already an important trading partner with the UAE, with statistics showing that trade between the two grew by 22 per cent from 2010-2011, reaching US$2.6bn. Coupled with that, over 20,000 Australians are based in the UAE and more than 300 Australian companies already have operations there.

The Australian Arab Business Forum held in Sydney at the beginning of June has also been instrumental in bolstering trade links. Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, the UAE Minister for Foreign Trade, opened the conference, where she spoke of the UAE’s decision to adopt a liberalised trade policy in an effort to remove barriers and strengthen its trade relations with international investors. Australian officials were also keen to emphasise the importance of striking a free trade agreement between the GCC and Australia to push forward the trade ties.

The Forum aimed to link business delegates from Middle Eastern and Australian markets and highlight the business opportunities available in both territories.