UK targets UAE financials

28 July 2006
The UK government is ramping up efforts to increase trade and investment with the federation over the next two years, Richard Makepeace, the UK's ambassador to the UAE, said on 23 July. The ambassador, who leaves his post after the summer, said the UK would prioritise the financial services sector by improving advisory services and promoting investment opportunities in the UK.
'The emphasis is on the potential of the City of London as a source of financial services for the UAE,' said Makepeace. 'With the development of the Dubai International Financial Centre [DIFC], there's a lot of scope to increase the flow of services.' UK banks registered at the DIFC include HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Barclays Bank and Lloyds-TSB.

The UAE appears on the UK Trade & Investment Ministry's list of 10 key future markets. Saudi Arabia is also on the list. The ministry has allocated£5 million ($9.2 million) over the next two years to improve trade and investment across the 10 emerging markets.

The move is part of a change in strategy that shifts resources aimed at improving trade and investment to new markets away from the UK's traditional trading partners in Western Europe. 'There's a strong history of investment in the UK from the UAE,' said Makepeace. 'This is particularly [the case] with government funds, companies involved in the hospitality sector, individuals investing in property and now investment in the ports sector.'

Funds are targeted at expanding the range and quality of advisory services on offer to UK and UAE companies looking to invest in each other's market. 'We are seeing major UAE companies playing a worldwide role, and we would like to get our fair share,' said Makepeace.

In 2005, the UK exported more than£5,500 million ($10,170 million) worth of goods and services to the UAE, making the federation its ninth largest export market. More than 120,000 British nationals live in the UAE, which also welcomes more than 1 million UK tourists a year.

Both governments are due
to sign in September three treaties that will assist efforts to reduce financial sector crime and money laundering. The treaties, which have already been
initialled, cover extradition, mutual legal assistance and co-operation in commercial matters.

'Anti-money laundering measures are moving in step with the development of the financial sector,' said Makepeace. 'We're trying to put in place a network of firm procedures. We don't want fraud against the UK from here or vice-versa.' (MEED 14:7:06).

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