UAE, January 18, 2017 - H.E. Eng. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, UAE Minister of Economy (MOE), affirmed that the economic relations between the UAE and New Zealand continue to grow and are expected to develop further as the two countries aspire to strengthen cooperation in a number of economic sectors of common interest and prioritized within their respective development plans.
The announcement came during a meeting between the UAE Minister of Economy and H.E. Todd McClay, New Zealand Minister of Trade, and his accompanying delegation at the MOE’s Dubai headquarters. Both parties demonstrated the potentials of increasing trade and strengthening cooperation in a number of areas, most notably agriculture and food, renewable energy, innovation, civil aviation, and tourism. The officials also discussed the current status of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the GCC and New Zealand. They touched on major issues that could be raised at the next meeting of the Joint Economic Committee which is set to take place this year in New Zealand.
Among the MOE officials who attended the meeting were H.E. Eng. Mohammed Ahmed Bin Abdulaziz Al-Shehhi, Undersecretary for Economic Affairs; H.E. Humaid bin Butti Al Muhairi, Assistant Undersecretary for the Corporate Sector and Consumer Protection; Abdullah Sultan AlFan AlShamsi, Assistant Undersecretary for Industrial Affairs; and other senior officials and advisers. New Zealand was represented by Jeremy Clarke-Watson, New Zealand's Ambassador to the UAE; H.E. Kevin John Mckenna, Consul General of New Zealand; and the New Zealand Embassy Deputy Head of Mission, Rebecca Wood.
H.E. Eng. Al Mansoori stated that the country's leadership prioritizes innovation and thus places great importance on the National Innovation Strategy. He highlighted the strong interest of the UAE Ministry of Economy to closely work and cooperate with New Zealand on innovation initiatives, as it looks to complete the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the parties.
The Minister further explained that the next meeting, the 6th session of the Joint Economic Committee, will be an important platform for accelerating the pace of current cooperative agreements. The session will also facilitate discussions on ways to increase development opportunities and overcome potential challenges that may affect the productive bilateral relations, particularly their economic, trade, and investment ties and partnerships with the private sector.
The UAE Minister of Economy added that cooperation in the agricultural and food industries and enabling the UAE's agricultural investments in New Zealand through the latest innovative tools top the list of the Committee’s agenda for its upcoming meeting given their major roles in addressing the country’s food security. The meeting will also focus on cooperation in civil aviation, which is a key factor for the mutual development of trade, investment and tourism.
Both Ministers discussed the latest updates on the FTA between New Zealand and the GCC, with H.E. Eng. Al Mansoori clarifying that the agreement is now in its final stages and is currently undergoing legal review by some of the GCC countries before final approval. He noted the importance of the agreement in enhancing trade and investment exchange between the two parties.
H.E. McClay expressed his country’s paramount interest on the approval of the FTA because of its significant impact on increasing trade volumes with the countries in the region, and commended the UAE’s major role through the Ministry of Economy in making this agreement a reality.
The Minister also discussed the possibility of bilateral cooperation in gaining access to new regional markets by capitalizing on the economic benefits and the strategic geographical location of both countries. The UAE Minister noted the importance of the UAE as a commercial gateway that ably facilitates New Zealand’s trade access to the Middle East, African and European markets, and New Zealand’s value as a significant link for the UAE to access South American markets. He called for sustained communication to open up more trade prospects for both countries.
Total foreign trade between the UAE and New Zealand reached USD 1.6 billion in 2016, and is expected to increase dramatically in the coming years as both countries continue to push bilateral trade and economic cooperation initiatives.
H.E. McClay said that New Zealand will soon push ahead with the development and expansion of hospitality projects in several cities, noting that this move opens an important opportunity for UAE investments that have successfully built a global reputation in this sector.
In response, H.E. Eng. Al Mansoori urged New Zealand companies to explore the prospects of doing business in the UAE which offers an advanced economic environment, facilities, benefits and development incentives particularly conducive to the growth of high-value industries.
H.E. Eng. Al Mansoori said that these form part of the government’s directives towards establishing a knowledge-based economy focused on innovation, creativity and technology, particularly in transport, renewable energy, infrastructure, and small- and medium-sized enterprises.