Abu Dhabi: “In 2011 the total amount of France’s exports to the UAE was of €365 billion (Dh1.63 trillion), and this year we assess a three per cent increase in comparison with 2011,” Alain Azouaou, ambassador to the UAE, told Gulf News in an interview recently.
“Besides, it is worth underlining that the UAE stands for our fourth trade surplus in the world and the first in the Middle East,” he said.
Over the years, Azouaou said, France and the UAE have built a sound commercial relationship and trade between two countries keeps growing.
Being France’s number one trading partner in the Gulf, the UAE is definitely a key commercial partner to our country in the region, he said.
French exports to the UAE include a wide range of products from heavy equipment to consumer goods.
“UAE is an essential market for our luxury goods industry as French luxury goods worth around €700 million per annum are sold in the country. French companies, be it multinationals or SMEs [Small and Medium Enterprises], perceive the UAE as a strategic market and a genuine gateway to the GCC and to the Middle East as a whole,” the ambassador explained.
Today, there are more than 600 French companies working in the UAE and this figure grows by 10 per cent every year, he said.
Azouaou said French companies are well represented in various sectors, especially in the oil and gas. “They are also involved in waste management and wastewater treatment, hotel industry, retail and finance sector to name but a few. Regarding our imports, they are mainly of hydrocarbons.”
The UAE has shown a tremendous economic growth since its creation in 1971 to become a genuine model of economic success in the Middle East, the ambassador said. The UAE is striving to build a sustainable economy and as an economic partner, French companies are willing to be involved in this ambitious programme, he said.
“To boost our commercial presence in the UAE, the Dubai-based UBIFRANCE office brings support to French SMEs which are looking for importers and distributors in the UAE.” The French Business Group of Abu Dhabi along with the French Business Council of Dubai are also strengthening ties with the UAE’s business community, he said.
As a knowledge-based and innovation oriented economy, France offers great prospects to foreign investors, the ambassador said. “Our country is made up of 71 clusters dedicated to R&D [research and development] and we have set up the best research and development tax incentive available in Europe.”
He said the UAE seized opportunities in France by being the first investor from the GCC in the country. To promote Emirati investments in France, the “Invest in France Agency” has set up a permanent delegation in the UAE, he said.