H.E. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri at the ABLF Image Credit: ABLF


  • The UAE’s strategic location makes it the ideal hub to revitalise and strengthen intra-Asia trade corridors, says H.E. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, the Minister of Economy

Your Excellency, the idea of the Great Asian Century corresponds to the characterisation of the 19th century as Britain’s Imperial Century, just as the 20th century is known as the American Century. Given that the 21st century is being called the Asian Century, how important is this period for turbo-charging the Asian economy?

Asia today has emerged to become a major economic power in the world, and is currently consolidating its status as the engine that drives global economic growth. The continent is home to some of the largest and most important economies in the world. The commodity and service foreign trade statistics available through the World Trade Center 2017 and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reveal facts that reflect Asia’s current position in the global economy. It is the source of 42 per cent of the world’s commodity exports. Eight Asian countries are among the top 20 exporters of goods in the world.

Leadership summits such as the ABLF that bring together government officials, private sector representatives and businessmen are valuable opportunities to enhance mutual cooperation.

- H.E. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, the Minister of Economy

The continent accounts for nearly a third of global services exports and more than a third of world’s gross domestic product (GDP). In 2017, about 36.1 per cent of the global FDI flows went to Asia and the continent accounted for 36.4 per cent of outward FDI flows to the world. Moreover, Asia accounted for nearly a quarter of the world’s domestic and overseas investments at the end of 2017.

Furthermore, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the largest Asian region attracting FDI is Hong Kong, accounting for about $1.97 trillion. China is the second largest with $1.49 trillion and Singapore is in third place with $1.29 trillion.

What is the UAE’s role in strengthening the intra-Asia economic corridors and what are the key sectors in Asia that the UAE will be most connected with in the future?

The UAE’s strategic location makes it a major trading hub on the continent. Also, as a vital hub for business and finance, the country effectively links Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Many development initiatives are enhancing cooperation among the Asian economies.

The UAE is one of the first countries to support the revival of the old Silk Road, known as the Belt and Road, aimed at further enhancing trade. Trade statistics indicate that Asia accounts for 60 per cent of the UAE’s total non-oil foreign trade with the world. About 55 per cent of the UAE’s imports are from Asian countries and the continent accounts for 71.4 per cent of the UAE’s non-oil exports. Also, 64.8 per cent of UAE re-exports go to Asian countries. These figures highlight the importance of Asian markets to the UAE.

Besides this, figures by the Federal Authority for Competitiveness and Statistics indicate that Asia accounted for more than 38 per cent of the total FDI in the UAE at the end of 2016, exceeding a value of $45 billion. India is the largest Asian investor in the UAE, with a direct investment of $6.6 billion and Saudi Arabia is the third-largest Asian investor with a FDI of $4.4 billion.

H.E. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri and H.E. Shaukat Aziz Image Credit: ABLF

What is the role of leadership summits like the ABLF in supporting regional and international dialogue and cooperation for long-term development and economic sustainability?

Such platforms play an important role in addressing the most important challenges. Participation in such summits allow development of broader prospects for businesses and economic relations

The ABLF is a unique platform to engage in economic and trade dialogue. The forum is attended annually by senior government officials and businessmen from Asian countries. The Ministry of Economy remains keen to support various initiatives that strengthen the existing ties with the business community, to serve the strategic and developmental aspirations of the state.

H.E. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, H.H. Shaikh Khalifa bin Rashid Al Khalifa and H.H. Shaikh Khalifa bin Ali Al Khalifa Image Credit: ABLF

The ABLF, which is in association with the Ministry of Economy focuses on Asia’s role as the engine of the modern global economy. If the ABLF were to look beyond Asia, in your opinion, which other key economies have earned their place alongside this great region?

The UAE enjoys excellent economic and trade ties with almost all countries in the world, maintaining friendly relations and a continuing focus on enhancing cooperation and building new partnerships to achieve shared goals. In this context, the UAE remains keen to explore more opportunities for cooperation in various regional and international markets.

Africa is a crucial market with the potential to open up more prospects for economic cooperation, given its enormous untapped potential and the various areas of economic development that can be pursued and nurtured.

In addition, Latin America, one of the most promising economies that shows growth potential, is undoubtedly one of the emerging markets in the next phase and the UAE is keen to further strengthen its economic and trade relationship with the country.

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