Shaikh Abdullah and Ahmad Bin Helli discuss trade issues with Jang Fu Chang (right) and other members of the Arab-China delegation during the inauguration of the Arab-Chinese Cooperation Forum in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The UAE yesterday pledged to work to deepen Sino-Arab friendship and enhance political, economic and trade cooperation, according to Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister.

"We should deepen Sino-Arab friendship, expand cooperation, and establish new partnerships to mark a new stage of all-weather and deeper cooperation between the two nations," Shaikh Abdullah said at the fourth Sino-Arab Cooperation Forum.

He added that based on the recommendations made in previous forums, the Chinese community had established a school in the UAE which represents the improving bilateral ties between the UAE and China on one hand and between China and the Arab states on the other.

"The value of trade between China and Arab states increased from $36.4 billion [Dh133.58 billon] in 2004 to $107.4 billion in 2009 and now it stands at $150 billion which is a sign of the rise in economic and trade exchanges between China and the Arab states," Ahmad Bin Helli, deputy secretary-general of Arab League, told Gulf News on the sidelines of the forum.

Trade exchanges

"China's is the second biggest economy in the world and the total area of Arab states is nearly 14.26 million square metres, accounting for 9.5 per cent of world's total area. The population of the Arab countries is about 340 million, accounting for 4 per cent of the world population," he said.

"We should give full play to complementary advantages of the economy in China and Arab states, should encourage the free flow of commodity, capital, technology and services, and should expand the trade scale."

Chinese officials said that the accumulative direct investment increased from $101 billion in 2004 to more than $505 billion by the end of 2009 and is expected to increase even more in the coming years.

They added that the accumulative completion of turnover of project contracts increased from $13.5 billion in 2004 to $70 billion now, still with space to expand.

"Our main concern is the Sino-Arab interaction to make it larger and stronger through starting new partnerships between the two sides," according to these officials.

Good opportunity

Jang Fu Chang, former Chinese deputy foreign minister, said that the forum will function as a good opportunity for dialogue.

"The Arab world occupies an important and special status in Chinese diplomacy," Jang said.

Anwar Mohammad Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Federal National Council (FNC), said that Arabs should benefit from the Chinese advanced economy and technologies.

"We have to conduct strategic dialogues and consultations, support each other in core and important interest issues."