Accelerating trade openings - GulfToday

Accelerating trade openings


Maktoum Bin Mohammed attends first-ever Global Business Forum ASEAN in Dubai.

Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, on Wednesday attended the first-ever Global Business Forum (GBF) ASEAN at Expo 2020 Dubai.

GBF ASEAN seeks to enhance economic ties and bilateral trading relations between Dubai and the 10 member states that make up the ASEAN region.

Addressing Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and other delegates, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, highlighted the significance of the Forum and the platform provided by Expo 2020 Dubai to explore greater trade and investment between the two regions.

“Hosting Expo 2020 Dubai at this critical juncture in the world’s history helps the global economy make a new start and accelerate its recovery and growth. ASEAN countries can play a key part in the world’s economic growth by supporting international trade and building partnerships. The large populations of ASEAN countries provide huge investment opportunities and support the global supply chain. The UAE is looking positively at the ASEAN region, as it holds a solid economic position with a total GDP of $3 trillion. Both the ASEAN and GCC regions complement each other and play a vital role in the world’s economy,” he said.

Also speaking on the first day of the Forum was Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai. She said resilience and the ability to overcome obstacles are critical to the continued growth of GCC and ASEAN countries.

“If the pandemic laid bare the fragility of traditional economic systems, it also underscored the potential of those accelerating their adoption of digitisation, building innovative and agile startups and SME ecosystems and establishing a global reputation as hubs and platforms for long term and sustainable partnerships. The nations of the Gulf and Southeast Asia are introducing several forward-thinking initiatives - we are entrepreneurs and problem-solvers, always seeking new perspectives to spark creativity and innovation. We have demonstrated these qualities since the UAE’s foundation in 1971 and throughout our journey into the 21st century,” said Al Hashimy.

In a discussion that followed, Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, highlighted Dubai’s strategic location which has enabled it to become a commercial centre and a gateway to other regions. Companies across the world have successfully used the UAE’s location as a springboard to access lucrative new markets.

“If you want to expand your business beyond a specific geography to diversify risks, the best way to enter a region is by creating a hub in the UAE. This gives investors the opportunity to reach a population of over two billion people covering diverse markets including east Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India. What this gives prospective investors is access to a pool of high-quality talent. It also gives them the best time zones to work with both in the east and the west. You are able to start with Asia, then the afternoon with Europe, and in the evening with the US,” Al Olama said.

“Also, businesses can expand beyond one country. With a presence in the UAE, countries in the region will be a lot more likely to help businesses expand into their geographies. There are several exemplary models that investors can use to unlock their growth potential in the markets of Asia and beyond. An example of this is the expansion of DP World’s operations beyond the GCC, to Asia, Africa and Latin America,” Al Olama added.

He also drew attention to the facilities that Dubai offers businesses operating in the rapidly expanding technology sphere, with Dubai Internet City home to more than 60% of artificial intelligence startups in the region and Dubai attracting over 62% of all foreign direct investment into the region’s digital economy.

Representing Dubai Chambers, Abdulaziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of Dubai Chambers, spoke about how Dubai offers a fertile business environment for ASEAN companies. He called for greater cooperation between stakeholders of both regions to maximise their mutual potential.

‘The ASEAN region is a market of strategic importance to Dubai at a time when bilateral relations have expanded in recent years. The number of ASEAN companies registered with Dubai Chamber and operating in Dubai has grown by 35.5% since 2018 to reach 3,300 today. Dubai-ASEAN non-oil trade in the last five years reached around $110 billion (Dhs404 billion). Yet, there is huge potential to further expand bilateral trade and tap into existing synergies. For this to happen, we must work together to remove trade barriers, facilitate ease of doing business and identify new areas where we can align our ambitions,” Al Ghurair said.

Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General, ASEAN Secretariat, said: “The bilateral trade between Dubai and the ASEAN countries in the last two decades was $37 billion and we believe that the UAE and Dubai, in particular, can open new avenues for strategic partnership between ASEAN and GCC countries. The ASEAN countries have a lot to offer. Investments in the digital economy and e-commerce came at the top of the list as the region has over 660 million people. We are confident that the UAE can help to build strategic partnerships with ASEAN countries in areas such as technological advancements, supply chain and green technology as the UAE is already a pioneer and leader in sustainable finance and green investments.”

Organised by Dubai Chamber in partnership with Expo 2020 Dubai, GBF ASEAN is hosting a comprehensive programme of keynote addresses, presentations, discussion panels and workshops designed to explore ways of ramping up bilateral trade and advancing the economies of Dubai and the 10 countries of the ASEAN region. Held under the theme The New Frontiers, the conference is the latest addition to Dubai Chamber’s Global Business Forum series, which was launched in 2013 to identify synergies between Dubai and promising markets around the world.

Business confidence of Filipinos in UAE: A national survey presented at Expo 2020 Dubai heralded a post-pandemic optimism of Filipino consumers for UAE’s sustainable growth trajectory in the next 12 months.

The study conducted by The Filipino Times, the biggest news platform for Filipinos in the Middle East and North African region, focused on several key indicators as a gauge to measure Filipino expats’ consumer confidence and covered 2,612 Filipino respondents from across the emirates.

It measured Filipinos’ consumer sentiment and purchasing power, as well as business outlook of companies catering to or targeting the Filipino consumers in the UAE—which is considered as one of the fastest-growing, brand-loyal consumer segments.

As presented during the Global Business Forum-ASEAN organised by Dubai Chamber at Expo 2020 Dubai, the survey revealed that an overwhelming 96 per cent of Filipino expats believe that the UAE economy is in a stronger position to achieve further progress in 2022 driven by better performance of private sector since the pandemic.

On the back of the upswell economic impact of the Dubai Expo, strong population growth, double digit growth of new businesses as well as the UAE’s leading vaccination rate, 89 per cent of Filipino professionals are also in upbeat prospect for a salary increase in 2022. A third of them are already earning a monthly salary of over Dhs10,000.

Fastest growing market: This strong optimism amongst Filipinos is reflected in their consumption habits, making them a fast-growing major profitable consumer market in the UAE.

In an analysis, the survey emphasised the importance of gauging consumer spending, which is directly linked to better employment outlook. While spending revives businesses, the recovery of businesses leads to upbeat job market and more spending.

Owing to Filipinos’ growing purchasing power and their well-established reputation of loyalty to brands, they are being wooed by both local and international companies in the UAE.

Nearly 8 out of 10 Filipinos also highlighted that they are prepared to pay for a higher price to get products they aspire to have from well-known brands.

Of this number, 39 per cent are willing to spend on high-end gadgets; 26 per cent on culinary experiences; 24 per cent on branded clothes, fashion items, and accessories; and 11 per cent on car/vehicles.

The average age of overseas Filipinos in the UAE is in the ‘millennial’ bracket, which according to studies, stands out for their technology use and embrace for digital life.

Dr Karen Remo, CEO and Managing Director of New Perspective Media Group and Publisher of The Filipino Times, said: “As one of the largest expat communities in the UAE, the Filipinos have become a major consumer segment for many brands – both local and international – in this country. We have been seeing more brands boosting their strategy in capturing the hearts of this important target market.”

“The positive sentiment is driving an upbeat business outlook as the growing number of Filipinos, their growing purchasing power and the strengthening of UAE-Philippines ties fuel business expansions from Philippine-based companies, UAE-based Filipino entrepreneurs, and international firms targeting Filipinos,” Dr Remo added.

As reflected in the survey findings, 6 out of every 10 respondents said they have personally noticed an increase of promotions and marketing campaigns by local and international brands that cater specifically to Filipinos.

Vince Ang, Vice President, Brand Engagement at New Perspective Media Group and General Manager, The Filipino Times, said: “This survey shows that companies see the potential of the Filipino market in the UAE as a target consumer group that’s ready to make that decision to opt for a particular product or service.”

The UAE’s outpouring support for businesses in the region also sparked a new wave of business-minded Filipinos to dive into entrepreneurship, with 94 per cent of the respondents saying they have noticed more Filipino-owned businesses in the UAE compared to five years ago.

Currently, there are 792 Filipino-owned businesses in Dubai alone, according to Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry, citing data from Dubai Chamber.

Meanwhile, 98 per cent of the respondents also noted an increase in the number of Filipino brands on the shelves of their preferred supermarkets and grocery chains.

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