DP World Container Terminal in Canada Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Canada and the UAE have a robust and diversified business relationship, according to Canada’s Consul General to Dubai and the Northern Emirates.

This bilateral trade is based on a few key areas, according to Emmanuel Kamarianakis.

“Agricultural trade, services such as infrastructure and construction, manufacturing and investment all contribute to a strong bilateral relationship,” Kamarianakis told Gulf News over the phone.

At 150, Canada’s economy is supported by strong fundamentals

There are currently over 150 Canadian companies based in Dubai, and approximately 40,000 Canadians living in the UAE.

“There are a significant number of Canadian companies with hundreds and thousands of employees here in Dubai,” the official said.

Canadian merchandise exports reached a record of $1.79 billion (Dh6.57 billion) in 2016, whilst Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is a key area of common interest with the UAE, with investments in Canada totalling $9.68 billion in 2015, according to Statistics Canada.

The UAE is now Canada’s largest export market in the Middle East and North Africa region, and is one of its major trade partners on the world stage.

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A key area of UAE investment in Canada is in its ports: DP World has terminals in Prince Rupert, Vancouver, and New Brunswick.

“DP has recently partnered with one of our pension funds, in order to invest in port assets across Canada,” Kamarianakis said.

DP World announced in January 2017 that it had partnered with Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, a Canadian institutional investor that manages public pension funds, to create a $3.7 billion investment vehicle.

Kamarianakis said that the investor-friendly environment in Canada was very attractive for the UAE’s sovereign wealth funds and family groups.

“There’s a significant amount of interest in Canada that needs to be tapped, partly because we have a very developed investment environment,” he said.

On the other side of the coin, Kamarianakis added, there was plenty of Canadian investment in the UAE.

“There are lots of Canadian companies exploring opportunities in the UAE, from commodities, to agriculture, to manufacturing and innovation” he said.

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Canadian companies have traditionally had a strong relationship with the UAE’s construction projects.

Currently, Brookfield Asset Management, the Canadian investment giant behind Canary Wharf in London and large projects in New York, is developing its first Middle Eastern property in Dubai.

Brookfield Place, a 1.5 million square foot office and retail development located in DIFC estimated to cost $1 billion, is being built as a joint venture with Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD).

In commodities, Canadian companies work closely with their UAE counterparts to develop sectors such as aluminium and energy.

“The Canadian aluminium sector is working extensively with Emirates Global Aluminium (EGA),” Kamarianakis said.

The company’s roots in fact lie in Global Alumina, a Canadian publicly traded junior mining company, which was purchased in 2013 by Mubadala and DUBAL, and renamed to EGA.

According to the diplomat, Canola seeds, wheat, beef and veal are also popular as imports to the UAE, often re-exported to other countries.

In Kamarianakis’s opinion, the future of the two countries’ bilateral trade lies in innovation, manufacturing, and trade.

“Innovation is so important — we have a significant and robust innovation climate in Canada. We have great research institutions and universities focussing on things like AI, wireless technology, and biosciences. We are also looking at the commercialisation of technology and innovation,” he said.

Kamarianakis added: “There is scope for a continued growth in our respective exports, including the export of services in infrastructure and so on. And in manufacturing, we offer real potential as a lot of the Canadian economy is about advanced manufacturing, which will help the UAE as it grows this part of its economy.”

The two countries’ trade relationship still has a lot of room to grow, the official said.