UAE trade minister urges action against protectionism

Sheikha Lubna says curbing of trade activity could slow down global recovery.
UPBEAT MESSAGE: Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, the UAEs Minister for Foreign Trade. (Getty Images)
By Andy Sambidge
Tue 06 Jul 2010 11:26 AM

The UAE's foreign trade minister has called on governments worldwide to remove trade protectionism measures as the global economy looks to rebound from the downturn.

Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, the Minister for Foreign Trade, voiced her concern that any curbing of trade activity between countries would hinder rather than help global economic recovery.

She called for measures aimed at targeting its removal, such as the strengthening of multilateral trade rules and controls, to be explored swiftly.

“The only way to move forward in the trade system is to expedite serious negotiations and actual trade exchange among World Trade Organisation (WTO) member countries,” she said in an interview with Oxford Business Group (OBG).

On the UAE economy, Sheikha Lubna said that the decision to place the emphasis on goods, resources and services rather than on the paper economy was set to bring about a further increase in the non-oil-related contribution to the GDP of the country.

She said the decision to focus on a variety of sectors had resulted in an increased contribution of the non-oil sector to the net domestic product of the state to 71 percent in 2009, compared with 63 percent the previous year.

“The UAE always works to bolster revenue sources via diversification and is attracting most of the foreign investment flows to the region,” she told OBG.

“In order to enhance our economic strategy, we are currently focusing on areas such as renewable energy, airplane components and manufacturing, technology, tourism and education, while also boosting the country's services sector.”

Sheikha Lubna said the UAE’s performance in trade activity had remained strong despite the global economic challenges.
“The UAE has strengthened its regional and international position with regards to foreign trade during 2009. It has been able to do so primarily through its open market approach and the fact that it’s an international trade hub that conducts extensive export and re-export activities with 202 countries,” she said.

“Generally speaking, despite the 11.9 percent decrease in global trade in 2009, the UAE was able to register an 8.1 percent growth in its exports."

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