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Sun 21 Jul 2019 11:12 AM

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UAE-China links to strengthen further during Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed's visit

UAE-China trade hit $11.2 billion in Q1 2019

UAE-China links to strengthen further during Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed's visit
Chinese ambassador to the UAE, Ni Jian

Bilateral trade between China and the UAE reached $11.2 billion in the first quarter of 2019, a 16.21 percent increase compared to the same period in 2018.

It's hoped the visit this week of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, to China will help boost the relationship between the two countries further.

Dr Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri, ambassador of the UAE to China, said the visit will involve a series of high profile meetings with key influential Chinese business leaders. “We expect significant progress to be made in the development of several projects,” he said.

According to a report in Emirates News Agency (WAM), in the first five months of 2019, the bilateral trade amounted to $19bn, up by 11.37 percent, compared to the same period last year.

In 2018, China’s exports to the UAE grew by 3.2 percent to $29.66bn and China’s imports from the UAE went up by 32.8 percent to $16.26bn.

China’s investments over the years in the UAE reached $9.1bn in 2017. Chinese Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the UAE was worth $620 million in 2017 alone, the Chinese ambassador to the UAE, Ni Jian, was quoted as saying.

Belt and Road cooperation

The $410bn China-UAE Joint Investment Fund is operating smoothly, which highlights the practical cooperation between both countries, he said.

“In general, Chinese companies in the UAE have been growing by leaps and bounds, especially at a time when our bilateral relations are thriving and the UAE has become an important partner in the ‘Belt and Road’ cooperation," he said.

Chinese engineering contracting companies signed new project contracts worth $7.64bn in the UAE in 2018, up by 53 percent compared to the previous year, the envoy revealed.

Those companies made revenues to the tune of $3.61bn in 2018, a 44.8 percent increase compared to 2017, he said.

There are between 4,000 to 6,000 Chinese companies operating in the UAE, mostly based in Dubai.

According to Dubai Department of Economic Development, 618 new business licences were issued to Chinese companies in 2018, a year-on-year increase of 22.8 percent, the ambassador pointed out.

Chinese companies in Dubai

By the end of 2018, there were 5,977 effective business licences for Chinese companies registered in Dubai. About 4,811 of them were limited liability companies, and 4,628 were in the commercial and trade sector, he explained.

“Our financial cooperation is deepening. Our central banks [China and UAE] signed local currency swap agreements,” he said.

More than 1.1 million tourists from China visited the UAE last year, and there are some 150 direct flights between the two countries each week.

While the UAE is home to the largest Chinese community in the Middle East. As His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, noted during his state visit to China in April, trade and economic activity between the two nations will reach $70bn (AED257bn) by 2020.

Dr Al Dhaheri said: “The UAE and China's relations are based on decades of cultural, civilisational communication and trade exchange,” adding that 2019 marks 35 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries, and is “a special time for the UAE-China bilateral relationship”.

Arabian Business digital magazine: read the latest edition online