• UAE aims to boost exports and reduce trade deficits
  • Better balance of trade will create opportunities for UAE businesses
  • The Czech Republic is hosting a trade delegation from the UAE

The UAE wants to boost exports and develop stronger trade links with countries around the world as it further diversifies its economy.

Speaking to MEED in Prague on 21 April, Economy Minister Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri said the government is bolstering the economy by enhancing trade links with countries and regions around the world that offer growth potential for UAE firms. “We are looking in every direction. The reason for that is ever since the global financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 we have had to look at the different sectors of economy of the UAE and how we gain the maximum out of them,” said Al-Mansouri.

The Czech Republic, which is hosting a trade delegation from the UAE, is one of the countries that has been identified as an economy that offers good opportunities. “We have an open mind and we looked at the best countries to continue to trade with, specifically those that have positive signals of growth within their economies. We have identified countries in Europe, and one of those is Czech Republic, so we are focusing on how we can build up relationships with these countries.”

In 2014, the value of trade between the UAE and the Czech Republic was about $1bn, of which $798m was exports from the Czech Republic into the UAE. The main products exported from the Czech Republic to the UAE were glass, glazing and automobiles manufactured by Skoda.

The UAE wants a more balanced trade relationship with the Czech Republic and other markets in the future. “We are focusing on creating a balance in terms of bilateral trade between the UAE and these countries, and this has been our mission in promoting local business, industries products and services,” said Al-Mansouri.

The policy of driving UAE exports is a long-term one. “We would like to see better bilateral trade between UAE, EU, China, and India and to do that requires long-term planning, but we have to start somewhere, and that is why we started building momentum on building exports from UAE to other parts of the world,” said Al-Mansouri.

At the same time the UAE still wants to maintain its position as a market for foreign exporters seeking to sell goods and services into the UAE, and will continue to promote Dubai’s logistics networks and access to the broader region.

The UAE’s airlines are providing a key role in developing the trade links. “One thing you cannot forget is Emirates’ direct flights to Prague,” said Hamad Buamim, president and CEO, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry speaking at the Czech-UAE Business Forum in Prague on 21 April. “Trade is connectivity and those flights connect you [Prague] to a part of the world with Dubai International airport that is the world’s busiest, and a region with two billion people, which is very important for exporting your products.”

The Czech Republic sees the UAE as a key trade partner as it seeks to reduce its dependence on European markets. Germany is the Czech Republic’s largest trade partner, accounting for 30 per cent of trade. “Europe is Europe, and we are very much linked to a 21st century Europe that is struggling to be dynamic and growing more slowly than elsewhere in the world. For Central Europe to catch up with Western Europe we have to look at markets outside [Europe],” Vladimir Dlouhy, president, Czech Chamber of Commerce and former economy minister for Czechoslovakia told MEED.

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