Summit discusses cooperation opportunities in trade and investment, energy and post-oil economy
Abu Dhabi, November 6, 2016
The UAE has successfully participated in the 1st EU-Arab World Summit, which was held from November 3 to November 4, 2016 in Athens, Greece. The UAE was represented by H.E. Juma Mohammed Al Kait, Assistant Undersecretary for Foreign Trade of the Ministry of Economy.
The pioneering summit, which was organized at the initiative of the Greek government under the slogan ‘Partners for Growth and Development,’ saw the discussion of a series of sessions focused on how to reach a common vision on regional and international developments, while also looking towards the promotion of economic cooperation in the key areas of investment, trade, energy, infrastructure and a post-oil economy.
H.E. Al Kait participated in a session entitled ‘New opportunities to build a stronger partnership between the European Union and the Arab world,’ wherein he stressed that the summit is of great significance considering the magnitude of the Arabic and European Economy, which represents 50 countries and nearly a billion people with a trade valued at USD 373 billion. He noted that these figures give an indication of the existence of great opportunities for comprehensive development between the two parties.
H.E. Al Kait also pointed out that the European Union is one of the most important trade partners of the UAE, where the non-oil trade volume between the two sides witnessed a steady increase from USD 10.2 billion in 1999 to more than USD 65 billion last year– including free zone trade, as this exchange came during the first half of 2016 to more than AED 32 billion.
From a regional level, H.E. Al Kait noted that the UAE ranked first as the most important trading partner of the EU countries in the Arab region in terms of trading of non-oil commodities, which account for more than 44 per cent of the total foreign non-oil trade between the EU and the GCC, and about 23 per cent of the total non-oil trade in goods between the EU countries and the total number of Arab States. In 2015, the largest share of European exports to the region rose by about 25 per cent—accounting for 16 per cent of the total Arab exports to the European Union.
H.E. Al Kait shared that the existence of direct flights from UAE airports to more than 25 European destinations has had a significant impact in promoting economic cooperation and lifting trade and mutual investment levels, taking note of European investments, which represents 20 per cent of total foreign investment in the state, and stressing that the civil aviation sector opens up broad prospects for further cooperation, partnership and encourages the commercial, cultural and tourist exchanges further between the UAE and European countries.
H.E. Al Kait pointed out that Greece’s move to host the conference provides additional value, as the country continued to enjoy strong economic ties with the UAE. In fact, recent reports show that non-oil trade between the two countries in 2015 reached USD 270 million including free zone trade, while the first half of 2016 has seen it reach USD 120 million. Greek direct investments in the UAE has amounted to about USD 152 million since the end of 2014.
In another session titled ‘Developing a New Generation of Infrastructure in the Arab World,’ Khamis Juma Bu Amim, a member of the board of Directors and managing Director and CEO of the group of Gulf Navigation Holding, showcased how the UAE’s presence of key infrastructure has allowed it to become a regional hub globally vital for trade, investment and logistics. He stressed on the importance of the opportunities offered by maritime transport, energy and hydrocarbon derivatives of the oil and petrochemical sector.
Bu Amim pointed out that the production growth in the oil sector is expected to reach 22 per cent in the Arab Gulf region, especially in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iraq. He noted an increased consumption by 42 per cent until 2035, citing the importance of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which has positive impacts on international maritime traffic.