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Wed 14 Nov 2018 07:46 PM

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UK minister sees 'stronger' UAE trade ties after Brexit

Baroness Fairhead CBE says potential to grow bilateral trade is 'huge' regardless of Brexit deal outcome

UK minister sees 'stronger' UAE trade ties after Brexit
Baroness Fairhead, the UK's Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion.

The UK's relationship with the UAE will become stronger after Brexit, according to the country's Minister of State for Trade and Export Promotion.

Baroness Fairhead CBE, in an interview with state news agency WAM, dismissed any negative impact of Brexit, saying: "They will get stronger. We have an efficient export strategy to increase our export level from 30 percent to 35 percent of our economy."

"Less than 10 percent of UK companies are currently exporting so we see a lot more potential to work and look outside. We've approached our businesses and asked them how do you want us to help you so that we can achieve this target," she said.

Her comments come as 50 UK-based companies are participating at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference which showed "how strong our partnership with the UAE is", she added.

She affirmed that the UAE and UK are focusing on the same platforms such as the use of big data and artificial intelligence and cleaner energy.

"That’s why the potential is huge for us to grow our business regardless of whatever the outcome of Brexit is. There is a strong desire in the UK to look outside more to markets that we have not tapped before."

She noted that the UAE is the fifth largest trading partner for the UK outside Europe, after the US, Japan, China and Hong Kong, and bilateral trade is now growing in double digits.

"In terms of investment, we are the biggest foreign direct investor today in the UAE. And I believe it has to go both ways so it becomes good for you and good for us."

She added: "We are working as partners and UAE is increasingly investing in a number of sectors in the UK, not just in real estate, but now in other industries like wind power... We are seeing so strong links now to sustain a stronger basis for our partnership to grow further."

According to the minister, the UAE-UK trade amounted to $22.7 billion in 2017 and the UK is looking to increase total trade to $32.5 billion. over the coming period.

Baroness Fairhead is a former business ambassador for UK Trade and Investment, with prior roles as chairman of the BBC Trust and the Financial Times Group.