Abu Dhabi: Trade relations between the UAE and Canada are expected to grow over the next few years especially in fields such as food and agriculture, education, oil and gas, and infrastructure, according to Canadian officials.
With the Canadian Business Council (CBC) in Abu Dhabi having just marked its 10th anniversary on Thursday, Simone Jucker, the council’s chair, told Gulf News that an increasing number of Canadian companies are eyeing the UAE to expand their business.
She added that falling oil prices were not affecting Canadian companies’ decision to expand in the UAE.
“Now is the time for companies to diversify and look outside their home countries and the markets they’ve been working in. For example, Canada’s largest trading partner is still the US, but now with changes in oil prices and how that’s affecting things at home, companies are definitely looking more at exports and new markets, so we’re hoping that that will increase interest in this part of the world,” she said.
The Canadian embassy in Abu Dhabi backed Jucker’s comments, saying that the UAE is expected to remain a strong commercial partner for Canada.
“The relationship between Canada and the UAE has never been stronger or more important to our joint prosperity. In fact, two-way trade has almost quadrupled over the past decade, increasing from $564 million [Dh2.06 billion] in 2005 to $2.6 billion in 2014,” said Arif Lalani, Canada’s ambassador to the UAE.
In an emailed statement, Lalani added, “For the past decade, [the Canadian Business Council] has been a vital partner for Canadian business in the UAE across all sectors. It reflects the close alignment between the governments and private sectors of Canada and the UAE.”
Another sector where trade is expected to grow is the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector, CBC’s Jucker said.
With the UAE looking to increase support for the sector and boost emiratisation, Jucker said that would open opportunities for Canadian entrepreneurs to provide technologies to the UAE’s SMEs.
“We have talked with the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce, and we’re looking at having an event with them in the fall to align more Canadian companies with the Emirati companies that want to do business with us. The event will be specifically on public private partnership,” she said.
CBC is also looking to boost trade between Canada and other GCC countries, and will invite delegations from business councils in the region to Abu Dhabi to discuss how to grow business opportunities in the region.
“This is only going to enhance trade between both sides. When one trade delegation comes from Canada to Kuwait, for example, there’s no reason it shouldn’t also be going to the UAE and Qatar to identify other opportunities,” Jucker said.
In 2014, Canadian exports to the UAE stood at $1.75 billion, marking a nine per cent increase over values from 2013. Meanwhile, the UAE is among the top 10 foreign investors in Canada with nearly $30 billion in investments by various companies.