Sharief Fahmy, Chairman (right) and Theresa F. Weber Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The trade relations between the UAE and the US are strong with bilateral trade reaching $25.44 billion in 2015, an increase of 2.24 per cent from 2014, Chairman of American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Abu Dhabi told Gulf News in an interview.

“The US-UAE trade relations are currently the strongest as have ever been. The UAE is the largest US export market in the Middle East surpassing Saudi Arabia, Turkey and India. This is due to a strong focus on the defence, health care, oil and gas and education sectors,” said Sharief Fahmy.

The total US exports to the UAE have reached $22.98 billion (Dh84.33 billion) last year surpassing other regional trade partners including Saudi Arabia ($19.69 billion), India ($21.53 billion), Turkey ($9.56 billion) and Egypt ($4.75 billion, according to figures provided by AmCham Abu Dhabi.

The top exports were transportation equipment including aircraft and commercial aviation equipment accounting for $8.7 billion.

There is also a huge presence of the US companies in the UAE with the number exceeding more than 1500 in different sectors including aerospace, finance, oil and gas, health care, tourism among others.

Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon are some of the companies in the defence and aerospace sector.

In the oil and gas, Occidental petroleum has a tie up with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) in the development of Shah gas oilfield in the Western region on Abu Dhabi and Exxon Mobil has concession agreement with Adnoc in the development of the emirate’s offshore oilfields.

From the UAE side, Abu Dhabi based Mubadala has $6 billion investment in GlobalFoundries, a semiconductors manufacturer based in California.

“We’ve seen consistent growth in trade between the two countries and moving forward I see the relationship strengthening further with boost in investment and trade.”

With the UAE planning to diversify their economy due to drop in oil prices and the introduction of the bankruptcy law next year, the number of US companies in the UAE is likely to go up.

“The introduction of bankruptcy law is going to benefit our SMEs significantly. A lot of companies will feel more secure to invest in the UAE.”

The UAE bankruptcy law approved by the UAE Cabinet last month is likely to come into effect early next year.

The new law will pave the way for companies in financial distress to restructure and allow the possibility of getting fresh loans under terms set by the law.

When asked whether change in the guard in the US after the elections in November will have any impact on the bilateral trade relations, he said business will continue to progress irrespective of whether a democrat or a republican candidate wins the elections.

“From a chamber perspective, we are non-partisan. We’ve been fortunate with Obama administration and the policies that came out in the last eight years. We expect the same spirit to continue whether it is Trump or Clinton administration.”

He said the Obama administration has attached special significance to the UAE with the US administration sending invitations to Emirati companies to come and be part of the select USA Investments Summit in Washington DC in June this year.

Thirteen companies represented the UAE and received special status with private meetings with the US Secretary of Commerce Pritzker, he added.

Set up in 1986, AmCham Abu Dhabi is represented by more than 600 American and Emirati companies including Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and big corporations with huge investments in the UAE.