(W.E.Talk) The UAE Ambassador: Fostering Engagement and Embracing Transformation: CIFTIS 2023 and the UAE's Economic Ties with China

2023-09-02 Editor : Jing Yuxin ECNS App Download

By H.E. Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi,the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the People’s Republic of China  

The China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) convenes in Beijing each autumn, gathering together China's foremost economic decision-makers and leading representatives from the global business community. Since its inception in 2012, CIFTIS has established itself as a key event for international corporations and commercial institutions dedicated to the Chinese market. The largest specialized international fair of its kind, CIFTIS provides an indispensable platform for facilitating robust commercial interactions.

In 2022, the UAE participated in the event as the “Country of Honor”, a landmark achievement that saw the UAE become the first Middle Eastern and North African nation to attain this recognition. This accolade underscores the UAE's contributions to global trade in services and underlines the significance of the UAE-China economic partnership. As the UAE's Ambassador to China, I am pleased to be able to announce our intention to build upon the accomplishments of CIFTIS 2022 by further amplifying our involvement in this year's exhibition. Alongside our national pavilion, we will host an exhibition entitled “UAE - Diversified Economy” articulating our nation's vision for innovative, sustainable development while showcasing the advances made in developing our economy in recent years. Presently, over 70 percent of the UAE's GDP stems from non-oil industries, a considerable increase from the 30 percent attributed to the oil-related sector.

In the forthcoming edition, our delegation will represent eight premier UAE companies and commercial entities currently operating within China, encompassing sectors such as aviation, finance, tourism, logistics, and telecommunications. This representation reflects the diversity and versatility of the UAE economy. As the Ambassador, I extend an earnest invitation to readers to join us and gain an insight into the exceptional opportunities our nation offers as a global hub for trade and services.

Flourishing Era of Bilateral Relations Between Two Nations:

The growth of CIFTIS over recent years, accompanied by its capacity to engage prominent global businesses, reflects the broader evolution of the Chinese economy and its influence on the global landscape. Notably, for the UAE and China, their economic collaboration is emblematic of a longstanding and growing success story, rooted in shared foundations of mutual trust. In the coming year, we are poised to commemorate four decades of diplomatic ties—an affiliation forged as China embarked on its transformative "Reform and Opening-up" phase, marked by heightened economic growth and an opening up to foreign investment. Since then, the trajectory of our bilateral relations has been one of steady enhancement, further fortified by the advent of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between our two nations in 2018 in various economic, commercial, cultural, political, and diplomatic fields, which elevated our ties still further.

The ethos of CIFTIS centers on the dual tenets of stimulating commercial engagement and adapting to change. The challenges and opportunities arising from swift technological advances, coupled with humanity's response to these innovations, pose fundamental questionsfor economic policymakers, business leaders, and ordinary citizens alike. It is widely recognized that both the UAE and China have achieved extraordinary economic progress within an astonishingly brief span, underpinned by unique development models across an array of sectors. Nonetheless, in an ever-evolving world, the capacity to recalibrate perspectives with a forward-looking perspective remains indispensable.

In this regard, both countries are notable for their ability to foresee change and embrace the possibilities of the future. Both China and the UAE have undertaken considerable strides in diversifying their economies and championing visionary solutions to global challenges. Through joint efforts, the UAE and China are at the forefront of pioneering endeavors, spanning green technology and climate change mitigation to financial digitization, sustainable agriculture, and space exploration.

China is the UAE's principal trading partner, evidence of the success of the UAE's diversification strategy. Total non-oil bilateral trade between China and the UAE reachedUSD 77.3 billion in 2022 alone. By 2030, our objective is to increase this total annual bilateral trade to USD 200 billion. Furthermore, underlining the UAE's commitment to China's Belt and Road Initiative, the countryhas established itself as a primary logistics hub for the Middle East, and is also home to approximately 6,000 Chinese businesses,highlighting the UAE’s openness to international expertise.

The Road Ahead: A Clear Path to Collaborative Progress

Our engagement and cooperation with China, as well as with other international partners, depends on developing and nurturing a forward-focused, innovative national vision. Aligned with the Centennial Plan 2071, the UAE is engaged in a comprehensive transformation of its economic model, in parallel with our efforts to enhance our dynamic, inclusive society.

The UAE is confident in its economic potential. Despite the challenges facing the global economy, the UAE's forecastsindicate robust growth, recovery, and prosperity during the latter half of this year, underscored by a track record of achievements that have cemented the UAE's reputation as an innovation-driven economy. The UAE's GDP grew by 3.8 percent in the first quarter of 2023, accompanied by a resilient growth projection of 3.88 percent for 2024. The re-export sector, which achieved AED 582.5billion (USD 158.6 billion) in 2022, is of pivotal importance for both the UAE and the global trade ecosystem. Recognizing its significance, the UAE Cabinet endorsed a national agenda for re-export development, encompassing 24 initiatives and programs with the aim of augmenting the value add of re-exports to the UAE economy by 50 percent by 2030.

Furthermore, we are resolute in growinga sustainable national economy that attracts international entrepreneurs and acts as an incentive for both regional and global foreign direct investment. Guided by visionary leadership, the UAE has expanded its network of trading partnerships, reinforced by strategiesaimed at strengthening the foreign trade sector. These collaborationsserve as drivers for economic growth, attracting diverse business opportunities that promote regional and global trade and investment.

This year will present unique challenges and opportunities for the UAE, where we will have the opportunity to emphasize our resolute commitment to long-term sustainability, particularly in the climate change sector. As we prepare to host the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) in Dubai in November - an event of paramount importancefor climate change mitigation and the most significant multilateral event the UAE has ever hosted - we reflect on the strides we have already undertaken since becoming the first country in the region to sign and ratify the Paris Agreement, the first to commit to an economy-wide reduction in emissions, and the first in the region to announce a Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative.

With China set to further welcome the international business community and the upcoming gathering of the world’s leaders and climate policymakers at Expo CityDubai, we can consider the interconnections between successful global commerce, environmental protection, and the revival of international engagement in crucial fields. This moment marks the return of face-to-face interaction in a post-pandemic era - a pivotal step toward enhancing international cooperation and engagement in areas of profound significance.

About the author:

Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi is the sixth Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the People’s Republic of China, having assumed this post in May, 2023.

Prior to this diplomatic posting, He had been a Minister in the Cabinet of the UAE for nearly eight years, having served as UAE Minister of Education from July, 2014 until May, 2022.

He holds a series of high-level positions in the UAE. These include Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Institute of Applied Technology (IAT), Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Abu Dhabi Institute of Vocational Education and Training (ADVETI), Chairman of the Emirates Transport Board of Directors.

Al Hammadi has a BS degree in Aerospace Engineering from Embry- Riddle Aeronautical University in the United States. Throughout his career, he acquired expertise in diverse fields, particularly across academic administration and government service. His initiatives have had great impact on achieving paramount advancements in education, technical and vocational training, coordinating the alignment between specialised education and the developmental needs and aspirations of the UAE, thereby laying the cornerstone for the empowerment of the Emirati workforce.


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