Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: The 19th edition of the Arab-German Business Forum opened today (Thursday, May 26, 2016) in Berlin, attended by leading decision makers, senior government officials and businessmen coming from Arab countries and the Federal Republic of Germany.

The UAE delegation attending the event is headed by His Excellency Engineer Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy and accompanied by H.E. Abdullah Al Saleh, Undersecretary for Trade and Industry of the Ministry of Economy. Also joining the delegation are representatives from the private sector and federal and local UAE government entities.

The forum is aimed towards reviewing the status and performance of priority economic sectors included in the agenda of the Arab-German cooperation, particularly across key sectors like logistics, transport and financial services. Participants are also expected to share and exchange their experiences in industrial transformation, advanced industrial technology, how to successfully promote industrial development efforts, the role of free zones in support of this sector in addition to reviewing ways of cooperation in massive infrastructure, housing projects and small and medium enterprise projects.

In his opening speech at the forum, Minister Al Mansouri shared that the economic ties between Arab countries and Germany is historical and supported by the strong industrial capacity of both sides, as well as the purchasing power wielded by the Arab markets. He added that these relations have witnessed remarkable growth due to their mutual desire to strengthen cooperative frameworks and drive in a smooth exchange of expertise and experience.

H.E. also pointed out that the UAE is considered as Germany’s largest partner in the Arab region. Germany, in turn, is the 6th largest commercial partner of the UAE.

He continued saying that the size of the trading and economic relations between the two countries is facing continuous development—wherein the value of non-oil commercial trading between the two countries reached AED 15.5 billion in 2015 with three per cent growth as compared to the previous year. The UAE Minister also noted that these numbers are projected to increase following the UAE’s vision of transforming to a knowledge-based economy in which innovation is considered as one of its main pillars in economic development—backed by the globally known great industrial and technological capabilities of the Germans.

H.E Al Mansouri added that the German-Arab Business Forum acts as a strategic platform to discuss and provide businessmen the opportunity to interact with German investors and decision makers in order to explore and exchange investment opportunities and partnerships across various development projects for the future.

H.E. Dr. Peter Ramsauer, President, Gorfa Arab-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, “The German-Arab business relations over the past 10 years have seen significant developments and growth in investment and trade. In fact, bilateral trade volume has been doubled to reach EUR 52.1 billion in 2015 with German exports increasing by 14 per cent between 2014 and 2015.”

Dr. Ramsauer predicted that the continuing increase of Arab investments in Germany provides a positive outlook on the economic relations of both parties. He noted that UAE, the partner country and guest of honor of this year’s event, had made significant progress in diversifying its economy, which involves numerous opportunities for German companies to strengthen its presence in the UAE and Arab markets in general.

Meanwhile, H.E. Nael Kabariti, President, General Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture for Arab Countries said in his opening speech that the Arab-German cooperation will witness wide development opportunities in the coming period across both the commercial and industrial sectors–stressing on the importance of the topics to be discussed at the forum, which are essential in the move to bolster cooperation between the two countries.

He also lauded the move to make the UAE as this year’s guest of honor, pointing out that the country has achieved considerable progress in diversifying its economy and has continuously maintained advanced growth rates. Kabariti also commended the country’s strategic vision to shift its economy to being a sustainable knowledge-based government by 2021.