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Swiss-UAE bilateral trade robust, investments in UAE total $20b

Swiss finance minister holds discussions on trade and investments

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Economic ties between the UAE and Switzerland are robust and Swiss foreign investment in the UAE amounts to $20 billion (Dh73.46 billion), the European country’s visiting finance minister said in Abu Dhabi.

“The UAE is one of the most important economic partners in the Middle East and there are good bilateral relations in the economic and financial sectors. Swiss companies are responsible for almost 11,000 jobs in the UAE and Swiss foreign investment amounts to $20 billion, slightly less than China and slightly more than Singapore,” said Ueli Maurer on Monday.

Maurer was in the UAE on Monday along with a high-level delegation comprising representatives of Swiss financial institutions, including the chairman of the Swiss Bankers Association and state secretary for international financial matters in the Federal Department of Finance.

During the visit, the finance minister of Switzerland met several officials, including Mohammad Ali Bin Zayed Al Falasi, Deputy Governor of the UAE Central Bank, and Ahmad Al Sayegh, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Global Market.

On Tuesday, he is expected to meet Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs, and representatives from the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

More than 250 Swiss companies have an established presence in the UAE, including about 20 financial institutions. Economic relations are supported by a free-trade agreement (FTA) between the member states of the European Free Trade Association and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which was fully implemented in July 2015.

Maurer also said both the countries discussed issues pertaining to cryptocurrencies and how to regulate them.

“We will continue this dialogue to look at what we can do to gather for regulations and what is necessary. Our idea is something for development... block chain is so important for our future.”

The delegation also visited Saudi Arabia before coming to the UAE.

When asked if Switzerland has seen any increase in financial flows in or out of Saudi Arabia in recent months, Herbert Scheidt, the chairman of the Swiss Bankers association, said they have not seen any major movement of funds being transferred.

On any Saudi assets being frozen, he said there was no discussion on the topic and they are not the right people for that.

“It would have to go to the general prosecutor in Switzerland who decides.”