Q&A: Everything you need to know about the Dubai-Mexico trade partnership

H.E. Hamad Buamim, President and CEO Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, speaks to Vision about the historic trade partnership, with fantastic insight for business, trade, and more

Vision: What is appealing about Mexico for the UAE, in terms of trade? 

H.E. Hamad Buamim: As the second largest economy in Latin America, Mexico offers progressive trade policies, an extensive network of free trade agreements with over 50 countries, and a strategic location that make it an ideal trade partner for the UAE, and Dubai in particular. In addition, Mexico’s business environment encourages foreign investment, particularly within its manufacturing sector.

Our keenness to promote trade with Mexico is aimed at increasing Dubai's ability to benefit from the growing lucrative investment opportunities offered in this market. Dubai and Mexico share many synergies as both economies are geared toward global trade, which have also diversified over the years.

The inaugural Global Business Forum on Latin America organised last November by Dubai Chamber served as an important platform for bringing UAE and Mexican businesses, investors and officials together to discuss these synergies and identify other areas of mutual cooperation.

V: Mexico-Dubai relations have significantly increased in the past five years. What has made this partnership so effective?

HB: Mexico and Dubai have enjoyed a strong trade relationship that dates back four decades and bilateral trade has grown steadily in recent years and amounted to AED3.4bn during the first nine months of 2016.

Over the last few years, closer bilateral relations were forged following the first high-profile UAE official delegation visit to Mexico headed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, in April 2014.

Dubai Chamber has been working to expand its trade and cultural ties with Mexico through forums, seminars, delegations and other initiatives. Last year, we organised the UAE-Mexico Business Forum in partnership with the Mexico Embassy in the UAE, which was attended by H.E. Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico. The forum was a great first step in strengthening economic cooperation between business communities in both countries. The high-level delegation also demonstrated Mexico’s strong interest in Dubai as a trade and investment hub.

We are committed to providing all the facilities to businesses on both sides to promote bilateral trade. In addition, exploring new trade and investment opportunities in the country remains a strategic objective.

V: What are some investments in Mexico that appeal to the UAE?

HB: Business sectors including trade, tourism and construction are potential investment opportunities that Dubai businesses could explore, and use their experience in these areas to benefit from Mexico’s strong growth potential.

As a thriving tourism destination, Mexico offers potential for new ventures and partnerships with UAE-based companies that specialise in this sector. In addition, there is still a need to upgrade and develop the Latin American country’s logistics infrastructure. Dubai and the UAE could offer its expertise and investment to such projects.

V: Dubai's largest partner in trade is China. What could Mexico learn from China?

HB: China has been very active in diversifying and expanding its trade relations globally, which has worked to its benefit amid challenging economic conditions. The country accounts for a significant amount of foreign investment in Africa, the UAE and wider GCC region. The government has also made foreign investment and infrastructure spending a top priority as it pushes ahead with an ambitious plan to build the New Silk Road.

Mexico would stand to benefit from changing global trade patterns by forming stronger trade ties with emerging markets that offer attractive trade and investment opportunities. Most Mexican exports to Dubai fall under the categories of foodstuff, vegetables, machinery and electric equipment. There is plenty of room to boost export volumes in other areas, and capitalise on new opportunities being created by the Dubai Plan 2021, as well as the ease of access that Dubai can provide Mexican exporters that aim to reach other markets in the GCC and Africa.

V: What has made China such an effective trade partner for Dubai?

HB: China remains Dubai’s top trading partner with bilateral non-oil trade reaching AED121bn during the first nine months of 2016. Meanwhile, the number of Chinese companies registered with Dubai Chamber has grown significantly in recent years and reached nearly 2,900 by the end of 2016.

Stronger economic ties have been driven in part by the 4,000 Chinese companies operating in the UAE, of which 70 per cent are based in Dubai. The number of Chinese nationals living in Dubai alone has increased considerably and now exceeds 200,000. Dubai’s real estate and retail sectors have seen growing interest among Chinese investors who see the emirate as an attractive market to achieve high returns.