Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: H.E. Abdullah Bin Ahmed Al Saleh, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Economy for Foreign Trade and Industry, has emphasized the UAE’s role as a major trade gateway for Chinese businesses and investments coming into the region and expanding towards various European and African markets. He pointed out the solid economic relations with China, which the UAE considers its second largest trading partner.
The statement was made during a speech delivered by H.E. Al Saleh today (Wednesday, September 21, 2016) during his participation in the 5th China-Eurasia Expo which began yesterday and will run for six days until the 25th in the city of Urumqi, the Capital of China’s Xinjiang Province. The Undersecretary spoke during a forum on investment and trade development opportunities offered by countries involved in the ‘Belt and Road’ which focused on the textile and clothing sectors in particular.
H.E. said that the volume of exchange between the UAE and China including oil and free zone trade stood at around USD 54.8 billion in 2015, representing a 16 per cent annual increase over the past six years. He added that China topped the list of Dubai’s trading partners at a value of approximately USD 1.2 billion during the first quarter of 2016.
H.E. Al Saleh explained that the UAE recognizes the important role of the textile industry in supporting the UAE’s economic growth and non-oil trade, providing job opportunities and increasing foreign currency earnings. He shared that the UAE’s total textile trade was at around USD 15 billion in 2015 to top all Arab countries. The figure accounted for about 25 per cent of total Arab textile trade last year, with the UAE ranking 11th globally in textile imports with a 2.3 per cent share of total worldwide imports.
He further noted the importance of cooperating with China in this sector, as it exports a third of the world’s textiles. China is the largest provider of such goods to the UAE, accounting for as much as 36.6 percent of the state’s total fabric imports. He also referred to the important role played by the Xinjiang region in support of this industry, which provides 60 percent of the total cotton crops produced by China.
In addition, H.E. Al Saleh said that the UAE is currently focusing on various other vital economic sectors that support its thrust towards building a diversified knowledge-based economy in line with UAE Vision 2021 with emphasis on technology, renewable energy, and small- and medium-sized enterprises.
He further pointed out the importance of modern infrastructure and support for diverse business and investment activities in the UAE. He said that major ports and airports are presently undergoing expansion and underscored the great value of the 36 free zones found across the different emirates, most importantly the Jebel Ali Free Zone which is located between two major global logistics hubs, namely Jebel Ali Port, the sixth largest port in the world, and Al Maktoum International Airport, the largest air cargo airport in the world.
H.E. Al Saleh emphasized the UAE’s full commitment to actively contributing to the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ and ‘Maritime Silk Road’ initiatives. He noted that the country is a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) which will play a key role in the future of the initiative which represent a very important step in promoting international trade and opening up more opportunities for economic cooperation among more than 60 countries across the Middle East, Asia, Europe and Africa.