Top officials during a meeting in Dubai.
Abdullah Ahmad Al Saleh, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Economy, held a bilateral meeting with Zhang Xiangchen, Deputy International Trade Representative for the People’s Republic of China, on the sidelines of the recently held UAE-China Economic Forum in Dubai.
During their meeting, the two sides discussed enhancing joint investment opportunities in new economic sectors, trade, logistical transportation, real estate, financial services, technology and insurance activities.
Al Saleh stressed that the UAE-China historical ties are based on strategic partnership and cooperation, and have witnessed great development over the past four decades in all fields, especially economic and trade, which serves the two countries’ development direction and supports the growth and sustainability of their economies.
“The UAE is China’s first Arab and Gulf trade partner during 2021. China is also the UAE’s first trade partner, as the value of non-oil intra-trade between the two countries amounted to more than Dhs264.2 billion ($72 billion) in 2022, achieving a growth of 18 per cent compared to Dhs223.8 billion ($ 61 billion) in 2021,” he said.
Al Saleh continued, “The mutual investments between the two countries are witnessing continuous growth in various economic and commercial sectors, most notably real estate, logistical transportation, storage, financial services, insurance activities, manufacturing and information technology. Bilateral investments between the UAE and China reached nearly Dhs44 billion ($12 billion) until early In 2021. China is also the third-largest foreign investor in the UAE at the global level, with a balance of foreign direct investments that amounted to $9.3 billion until the beginning of 2021, and achieved a growth of 514.5 per cent compared to the beginning of 2013.”
The Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Economy briefed the Chinese side on the economic policies adopted by the UAE to enable and enhance the competitiveness of the investment environment and its growth, including providing incentives and supportive enablers to encourage the private sector to invest and expand in the country’s markets, amending the Commercial Companies Law, which allowed 100 per cent foreign ownership, and supporting the increase of labour mobility and modernising residency systems in the country.
A top Chinese diplomat revealed in November 2022 that China-UAE bilateral trade has exceeded $64 billion during the first eight months of 2022, which marked a 27.93 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.
“China has become the UAE’s largest non-oil trading partner in the world, and the UAE remained China’s second-largest trading partner and the largest export market in the Arab region,” said Zhang Yiming, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China.
He emphasised that in recent years, China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ is highly consistent with UAE’s ‘Projects of the 50’, and the cooperation between the two sides is getting increasingly strategic, pioneering, and innovative.
Underscoring the UAE’s role as a major hub of the Belt and Road Initiative and a regional aviation, transportation and financial centre, the envoy said it is an important gateway for Chinese enterprises to “go global” and a popular destination for Chinese tourists.
As China and the UAE hold the world’s top two largest sovereign wealth funds, Yiming hopes that the two sides will strengthen cooperation in investments, currency exchanges, and digital Chinese currency (RMB), and play a vital role in promoting cooperation in new energy, biomedicine and high-tech innovation enterprises.
“China stands ready to work with the UAE as a good partner for common development and joint progress. The UAE is welcome to ride on the ‘fast train’ of China for coordinated development and interconnected growth,” the ambassador asserted.
The cooperation between China and the UAE in science and technology has drawn close attention of the international community, Yiming noted.
“The two countries made a series of ‘firsts’ in the world: they jointly conducted the world’s first phase-3 clinical trial of COVID-19 inactivated vaccine, initiated the first COVID-19 vaccine production line, built a Hayat-Vax vaccine production plant with an annual production capacity of 200 million doses, and approved a second-generation recombinant protein COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use,” he pointed out.
Before the pandemic, the number of Chinese tourists ranked fourth among international tourists visiting the UAE, and they ranked first among the top spenders, he pointed out.
“As the UAE is about to enter its peak tourist season from November, I believe that Chinese tourists will come soon in large numbers and tourism will become a new driving force for both countries. UAE friends are welcome to visit China to travel and enjoy the hospitality of the Chinese people,” the ambassador said.