Shaikh Mohammad leads the UAE delegation in discussions with the Chinese team in Beijing, on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Conference. Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Thursday held discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing in the presence of a high-level UAE delegation.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of the Second Belt and Road Conference for International Cooperation currently being held in the Chinese capital that has participation of 40 leaders of countries around the world and over 150 delegates.

Shaikh Mohammad said the UAE is working to further enhance its relationship and expand collaboration with China. The leaders of the two countries have a strong intent to expand the strategic partnership between the two countries, which was reinforced with the visit of Xi to the UAE last year.

“The economic collaboration between the two countries adds a new strategic dimension to the historic UAE-China partnership, and we are keen to widen this collaboration. We look forward for exploring new collaboration opportunities between the public and private sectors of both countries. Our objective is to promote cooperation in every sphere,” Shaikh Mohammad said.

He said that the collaboration with China serves the future strategic vision of the UAE and supports the objectives of both countries to accelerate development.

“China is a great country with one of the world’s oldest civilisations. It has been our main commercial partner over the last five years, and we aim to increase the value of commercial exchange between the two countries to $70 billion by 2020. Our partnership supports the development efforts of both countries, and creates new growth opportunities. The strong mutual will to expand collaboration provides a strong basis for the realisation of our future joint strategic objectives,” he said.

The two countries are working to boost collaboration in the business sector at a time when the number of Chinese tourists to the UAE is on the rise. Over 850,000 Chinese tourists visited China in 2018.

The two leaders also discussed means to boost collaboration between the private sectors of both countries, and ways that Chinese companies can benefit from the investment environment and strong infrastructure offered by the UAE. The UAE provides Chinese businesses a platform to access vast emerging markets surrounding it with a total population of over 2 billion. Over 4,000 Chinese companies have already based their regional headquarters in the UAE.

Shaikh Mohammad praised the Belt and Road initiative, which paves the way for a new phase of international cooperation. He pledged the commitment of the UAE to providing all the support necessary to making the initiative a success.

The discussion between the leaders covered various topics related to boosting bilateral relations that are set to add a new strategic dimension to the long-standing relationship between the two countries.

The meeting was attended by Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and Chairman and CEO of the Emirates Group; Mohammad Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future; Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy; Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs; Reem Ebrahim Al Hashemi, Minister of State for International Cooperation; Dr Sultan Bin Ahmad Al Jaber, Minister of State; Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Affairs Authority and CEO of Mubadala; Khalifa Saeed Suleiman, Director General of Dubai Protocol Department and Dr. Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri, UAE Ambassador to China.

Joint UAE-China investments are flourishing in various sectors including ports operations, the development of economic zones, industries, petrochemicals, oil and gas, technology, and others. Sectors that the two countries are exploring future cooperation in include innovation, technology and scientific research, advanced sciences, artificial intelligence, and small and medium-sized projects.

China is the UAE’s main trade partner with non-oil trade between the two countries exceeding $53.3 billion in 2017. The UAE accounted for 30 per cent of Chinese exports to Arab countries, and 22 per cent of the Sino-Arab trade in 2017. Over 4,000 Chinese firms operate in the UAE including a large number of free zone firms and trade agencies.