Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori (R), UAE Minister of Economy, and Abdul Rahman Saif Al-Ghurair (2-R), Chairman of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, walk with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti (2-L) to attend the UAE-Italy Business Forum at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce. Image Credit: EPA

Dubai: Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti considers the UAE as the top-most trading partner for his country in the Arab world, calling to boost the economic ties between the two countries.

“Italian exports to the UAE increased by 28 per cent in 2011 to a total of €4.7 billion (Dh22.04 billion) and we are expecting to do even better in 2012 as in the first six months the value of exports recorded by €3.2 billion (Dh15.01 billion).” He said during the UAE-Italy Business Forum organised by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry in association with the Italian Embassy in the UAE.

Moreover, Monti highlighted that Italy’s imports from the UAE remain limited but they nearly doubled in 2011. “This is clearly a win-win situation that we must set to expand in other fields,” he said.

“Emirati investors and consumers are familiar with the excellence of Italian companies and products, as I can see from the evidence of luxury cars and other goods as well as the restaurants serving our gourmet food.”

“Rail transportation is being developed by Italian companies, Italian helicopters and planes criss-cross the Emirati skies. Our companies are active in water desalination and your main steel plant is being built by an Italian contractor. The beautiful mosque in Abu Dhabi is also testimony of the reputation of Italy’s architects and craftsmen,” he added.

While the UAE is very focused on diversifying its economy, Monti remarked that the Italian industrial districta are ideal models for cluster development which could serve the interest of the UAE.

“Investment in them would help the UAE economy become even more independent from oil and gas, and advance the government’s objective of achieving a greater focus on a knowledge-based economy,” he said

In his opening address, Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy,pointed to the strong economic relations between the two countries.

“Over the past decade, non-oil trade between the UAE and Italy has increased by 295 per cent. It has risen from Dh5.5 billion in 2001 to just under Dh21.9 billion in 2011,” he added.

The UAE Minister of Economy said that trade between the two countries has continued to climb by 20 per centduring the first quarter of this year and is forecast to continue upwards in the short to medium term.

Al Mansouri also stressed on opportunities for further UAE-Italian partnerships in agriculture, construction, green economy, fashion, mechanics, and logistics and emphasised on stronger cooperation for economic development of both the countries.

On the other side, Abdul Rahman Saif Al Ghurair, Chairman, Dubai Chamber, called upon more Italian businesses to use Dubai’s excellent infrastructure and modern facilities and also to benefit from the emirate’s status as an ideal gateway for new business opportunities in the region and beyond.