The 5th Sharjah FDI Forum carries the theme ‘Future Trends in Foreign Direct Investment’ Image Credit: Gulf News Archive

Sharjah: The 5th edition of Sharjah FDI Forum was officially opened in Sharjah by His Highness Shaikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, with 1,500 participants and 54 speakers including senior government officials, top economists, finance and business leaders.

The Forum held under the theme ‘Future Trends in Foreign Direct Investment’ consists of 12 sessions eight panel discussions and four special sessions, as well as 5 workshops and a special round table by the Dubai Financial Market.

In his keynote address Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, the UAE Minister of Economy said Sharjah FDI Forum play a key role in developing investment concepts and discussing issues that nurtures and enhances business climate in the Emirate of Sharjah and the UAE.

The minister noted that in 2018, the world witnessed a slide in FDI inflows for the third consecutive year, it fell 13.4 percent compared to 2017 according to the UNCTAD Global Investment Report 2019. The FDI fell 27 percent in developed economies. In European Union economies’ the decline was 55 percent, while in the transition economies FDI declined by 28 percent. Meanwhile, FDI flows to developing economies remained stable, rising by 2 per cent.

Despite the decline experienced by most of the regions of the world in in FDI inflows, the minister said the UAE achieved a good rise in the cumulative foreign direct investment received until the end of 2018, which exceeded $140.3 billion representing 8 per cent.

“The Asian continent ranked first in injecting direct investments in the UAE, followed by Europe, North America and Africa while the country took the second top spot globally in signing international bilateral investment agreements and came third globally in new FDI projects announcements,” said Al Mansouri.

“These important results were not the result of coincidence, but rather the result of a clear vision by the wise leadership of the country to strengthen the UAE’s position as a global destination. This is reflected in the country’s policies to attract FDI, which is one of the indicators of the UAE Vision 2021, and a pillar in the UAE Centennial 2071. The country is keen on formulating strategies that strengthen its position as a leading country in attracting quality investment that supports development plans based on innovation, knowledge, technology and the digital economy,” the minister said.

According to statistics from Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah) Sharjah witnessed $571 million in capital investments in the first half of 2019 with FDI flow boosting employment opportunities, creating 1,311 new jobs across dozens of projects within this period.

The first panel discussion of the forum this morning addressed Industry 4.0 and circular economy as enabling drivers for FDI and business competitiveness, and how changes in the business process, models and approach to product design can help drive regional competitiveness as well as sustainable development in the digital economy.