Dubai has signed a preliminary agreement with the Chinese city of Linyi, a deal which could herald billions of dollars-worth of investment and trade between the two cities.

In Dubai, the memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Dubai Economic Council (DEC) and the city of Linyi, in the Shangdong province in east of China.

It will see the two cities working on joint projects in sectors such as infrastructure, recycling, maritime services, and supporting small and medium-sized businesses. These projects could be in Dubai as well as in Linyi.

Linyi City has opened a regional representative office in Dubai to support this agreement.

According to Hani Rashid al-Hamili, secretary-general at Dubai Economic Council (DEC), at least $5bn-worth of projects have been identified that could benefit from this partnership.

“In the short-term we anticipate $5bn, but it needs a lot of hard work,” he said after the signing ceremony.

The potential projects are expected to have the backing of the Chinese government-backed policy bank, China Development Bank (CDB). The DEC and CDB signed a partnership agreement earlier this year.

DEC also plans to potentially partner with other Chinese cities in the coming years, including Beijing, Hong Kong and Shenzhen.  

“[The agreement] is not limited – we will take it further,” Al-Hamili said.

Dubai-headquartered Drydocks World is one company looking at the benefits the Linyi-Dubai agreement could bring.

“There are a number of opportunities with China. One is with the [cruise ship] the QE2 and through our partnership with DDW-PaxOcean Asia. Slowly things are moving there and it is becoming important that we collaborate more,” said DryDocks World chairman Khamis Juma Buamim after the signing ceremony.

DryDocks World formed a joint venture in 2012 with the Singapore-headquartered Kuok Group to form DDW-PaxOcean Asia. Kuok Group has two Chinese shipyards.

The luxury cruise ship, the QE2, bought by Dubai and currently sitting at DryDocks Dubai, is due to travel to a Chinese shipyard in the coming weeks.

Trade between China and UAE reached more than $35bn in 2012, according to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI).

Chinese imports represented up to 15 per cent of the emirate’s total imports in 2012, reports the DEC.

Linyi City is home to a number of industries, including manufacturing, tourism and mineral resources. Its main exports include wood products, textiles, and construction materials.

In 2012, Linyi had a market turnover of $30bn. It has 18 logistic parks and exports 300,000 containers of goods every year.