Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair
Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of Dubai Chamber. delivers the welcoming address at the Global Business Forum Latam in Dubai. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai is pivoting to Latin America to enhance its food security and bolster trade with the region.

“As Dubai works towards its target - boosting foreign trade to $544 billion within the next five years - Latin America will be a key focus for our ambitious strategy,” said Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of Dubai Chamber. “Food imports from Latin America are a major contributor. The emirate continues to build partnerships with this region to enhance food security and serve as an export hub.”

Food security in the Middle East and North Africa remains a constant challenge. According to World Bank data, the region’s share of the world’s ‘acutely food insecure people’ is 20 per cent, disproportionately high compared to its 6 per cent share of the global population.

A potential deepening of trade ties with the Latin America region – one of the world’s biggest exporters of food and raw materials – will be highly beneficial to UAE’s economy as well. Bilateral trade saw an increase in the period before the pandemic, with imports rising sharply between 2017-19 to $17.2 million in 2019. Imports consisted mainly of primary commodities such as gold, meat, iron ore, grains, sugar and coffee.

“Looking at the latest economic indicators, you can see just how far Dubai and the Latin American markets have come in developing and expanding their business ties,” said Al Ghurair.

The GCC countries import iron ore from Latin America, which accounts for 9 per cent of total imports from the continent. This material is used to make aluminium products, which are then exported back to Latin America.

Dubai’s imports from Latin America have been well above $6 billion between 2018-20, while that for the first-nine months of 2021 stood at $4.8 billion.

Export from Dubai to Latin America stood at $687 million between January and September last year, thus exceeding the total export to the full 2020 period. Talking at the Global Business Forum LatAm, Al Ghurair said, “This is a sign that more companies in the UAE are tapping into trade opportunities across Latin America with the vast majority targeting Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Chile. The 27 countries in the Latin America and Caribbean regions offer a wealth of untapped potential, and has the Pacific Alliance, regional economic integration and reforms, and COVID-led digital acceleration to create a new growth prospective.”

Unlocking economic potential

Dubai holds the key to unlocking the Latin American economic potential, said Al Ghurair. Dubai can offer valuable expertise in key sectors such as logistics infrastructure, retail, tourism, and finance. “Dubai provides a vast competitive advantage, such as 100 per cent ownership, long-term residency, world-class infrastructure, attractive free zones and a wealth of new incentives, which have boosted its value proposition among foreign investor and companies around the world.”

Almost 400 Latin American companies are registered with the Dubai Chambers.