uae & spain agree on cooperation in trade, investment, innovation & smes

Abu Dhabi – The 4th session of the UAE- Spain Joint Economic Committee was held in Dubai today (Monday, October 23, 2017). The ministerial meeting of the committee was chaired by H.E. Eng. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, UAE Minister of Economy, and by H.E. Luis De Guindos Jurado, Minister of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness of Spain.

Also present were Ministry officials H.E. Eng. Mohamed Ahmed Bin Abdul Aziz Al Shehhi, Undersecretary for Economic Affairs; H.E. Humaid Bin Butti Al Muhairi, Assistant Undersecretary for Commercial Affairs; H.E. Juma Mohammed Al Kait, Assistant Undersecretary for Foreign Trade; and H.E. Youssef Issa Al Rifai, Assistant Undersecretary for Support Services, along with H.E. Mohamad Sharaf, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Economic and Trade Affairs, and representatives of several related government entities such as the Ministry of Finance and the Federal Customs Authority.

The Spanish side, on the other hand, included H.E. Marisa Poncela, Secretary of State for Trade; H.E. Antonio Alvarez, Spanish Ambassador to the UAE; and several other diplomatic personal and senior officials from the Spanish Government.

The two sides praised their excellent bilateral relations which enhances partnership and coordination in various development fields of common interest.

The two ministers discussed the most important economic and development issues in their respective countries. They also reviewed the latest developments and trends in international economics and exchanged views on the many challenges and changes facing the global economy as well as the cooperative approaches to confronting them.

The group emphasized that the economic relations between their countries have been continuously growing. They expressed their commitment to working together to consolidate these relations on an ongoing basis and to explore development opportunities in various sectors. They noted the vital role played by the Joint Economic Committee in raising their existing cooperation to higher levels in accordance with well-planned frameworks and mechanisms and a clear agenda that meets the aspirations of the two countries.

The Committee focused on enhancing trade in goods and services; encouraging mutual investments; establishing joint ventures that serve the interests of both sides; deepening cooperation in innovation, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), entrepreneurship, scientific research and development; and participating in investments and business activities related to the hosting of Expo Dubai 2020. It also sought to build effective and mutually beneficial partnerships between the business sectors of the two countries.

H.E. Eng. Al Mansoori said: “We are proud to count Spain among one of our closest political and economic allies. Our non-oil bilateral foreign trade has flourished in recent years, growing by an impressive 26.3 per cent from USD 1.9 billion in 2011 to USD 2.4 billion in 2016. Spain’s direct investments to the UAE continue to grow, with 45 commercial companies, 112 commercial agencies and 2,456 trademarks from Spain registered locally as of 2015.”

“There is still huge room for growth, and given the ongoing major shifts in the global economy, we would mutually benefit from exploring new avenues of cooperation especially in areas prioritized by our respective national development agendas. Since its first session in Madrid in 2010, the UAE-Spain Joint Economic Committee has played a pivotal role in bridging our commercial and economic gaps. For the 4th round of meetings we will assess the progress of the joint actions we agreed on during the last session in Granada and explore prime investment and partnership opportunities in sectors of common interest moving forward,” he added.

The Minister further noted that the UAE looks forward to exchanging experiences and knowledge and activating cooperation with Spain in several areas of common interest, particularly those that are in line with UAE Vision 2021 and those that reflect Spain’s leading developmental experiences, especially in the fields of innovation, SMEs, entrepreneurship, and scientific research. He also expressed optimism in intensifying trade and enhancing mutual investment as well as strengthening cooperation in the industrial and tourism sectors which are policy priorities in the two countries. He emphasized the importance of deepening collaboration in the fields of agriculture, food security and Halal products, health, education, transport, infrastructure, the Islamic economy, specifications and metrology as well.

H.E. De Guindos Jurado said: “We have strong bilateral relations with the UAE, mainly in terms of economic and trade cooperation which continues to grow. The UAE is among our country’s most important partners in the Middle East and we consider it an important economic destination for the Spanish Government and our private sector.”

H.E. Guindos added that wider horizons for strengthening cooperation in the vital sectors of both countries lie ahead, especially in light of their economic development. He pointed out that the Spanish economy has achieved a significant growth of 3 per cent over the past two years and is considered as one of the most competitive and flexible in the European Union. He noted the importance of providing a suitable environment for establishing productive partnerships at the governmental and private levels that serve the development objectives of the two parties, particularly in light of their common interest in enhancing innovation, knowledge and scientific research capabilities as well as supporting and empowering the SME sector and entrepreneurship, which are considered key catalysts of economic growth in both countries.

His Excellency De Guindos further added that both sides have undertaken sound mutual investments towards sectors of added value. He emphasized his country’s keenness to raise the level of trade exchange, and enhance the opportunities for Spanish companies to thrive within the UAE’s active investment environment while attracting UAE companies to the promising opportunities offered by the Spanish markets. This, he said, will further reinforce economic relations between the two countries and open wider horizons that serve their interests and meet their development aspirations.

Preparatory Meeting

The ministerial meeting of the Committee was held after a preparatory session this morning chaired by H.E. Eng. Mohammed Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz Al Shehhi, Undersecretary of the UAE Ministry of Economy for Economic Affairs; and H.E. Marisa Poncela, Spanish Secretary of State for Trade. The two sides reviewed the items in the committee’s agenda and the ways to facilitate cooperation and coordination between the two sides in the areas agreed upon in the Committee’s minutes.

H.E. Al Shehhi emphasized that the outcomes of the committee session will give an important boost to the trade and economic relations between the two countries. He said that the two sides will seek to develop a framework for a new and distinguished stage of cooperation and enhance coordination to face developmental challenges and benefit from available resources.

Various items that set up an effective road map for cooperation

The minutes of the committee’s meeting included the agreement of the two sides on the importance of expanding the scope of economic and trade cooperation between UAE and Spain. The group underscored the need to support the efforts of the public and private sectors to explore opportunities for establishing joint ventures and mutual investments that harness the major potential offered by the economic environments of both countries.

The UAE expressed its keenness to cooperate with Spain in sectors prioritized under the country’s National Innovation Strategy as key to stimulating development based on knowledge, innovative and creativity – including renewable energy, health, education, technology, transport, water, and space.

The Spanish side expressed their interest in promoting joint work between the public and private sectors in these fields, as well as their desire to participate alongside the UAE and international companies in construction works and other preparations for Dubai Expo 2020.

The two sides further highlighted the importance of cooperation in the adoption of the Halal industry and following up the positive results of the Memorandum of Understanding signed last year between the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA) and The National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation of Spain (Entidad Nacional de Acreditación – ENAC).They also discussed coordination on Halal standards in the country to ensure that Halal certifications issued in Spain comply with relevant UAE regulations.

In terms of investment cooperation, the two sides discussed ways to move forward towards signing an agreement to encourage and protect investments between the two countries.

The two parties agreed to move forward in supporting innovation, small- and medium-sized enterprises, scientific research and development, as well as the possibility of signing MoUs for these areas to provide an attractive business environment for all international companies operating in the UAE.

The group emphasized the vital role of the SME sector in driving economic development. The Spanish praised the UAE’s leading efforts to expand the presence of SMEs in Dubai Expo 2020. They emphasized the importance of exchanging experiences and sharing knowledge and best practices in these sectors.