The UAE-Spain Joint Economic Committee's second meeting concluded on a positive note here on Wednesday as both sides agreed to undertake all possible measures to further strengthen bilateral trade and extend cooperation on strategic levels of economic activity for mutual benefit.
In a joint statement, Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, and Luis de Guindos Jurado, Spain's Minister of Economy and Competitiveness, expressed satisfaction over the meeting and underlined the need to consolidate efforts both bilaterally and through the EU platform to facilitate access to key markets.
Economic relations between the two countries have been bolstered in recent years with a rising number of trade missions and high level official visits, following which more Spanish companies have established a presence in the UAE, and the UAE investments in Spain have witnessed sustained growth.
"The UAE-Spain Joint Economic Committee has become a major contributor to our efforts to boost trade and commercial ties between our two countries. I am happy to note that the bilateral trade between our countries has registered 75 per cent growth over the last three years, from €1 billion in 2009 to €1.75 billion in 2012,” said Al Mansouri.
De Guindos expressed satisfaction with "the increased bilateral trade flows” but added that "there is room to improve in terms of investment opportunities”.
"Many Spanish companies are world leaders in their respective sector: in transport infrastructure, civil engineering, financial services, information and communication technologies, among others,” the minister said. As examples of the competitiveness of Spanish companies he mentioned the high speed train between the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah and the enlargement of the Panama canal.
The UAE welcomed the establishment of the Joint Business Council between the Confederation of Spanish Businesses and the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry in 2011, and expressed optimism about the active role of the Joint Business Council (JBC) in promoting trade and economic relations between the two countries.
"The UAE is committed to strengthening the participation of the JBC in the promotion of trade, investment, services and industrial sectors activities as a means to achieve strategic public-private partnership between our two countries,” Al Mansouri said.
As for the Spanish government, De Guindos said that it "appreciates the significant increase in long term investment from the Emirates in Spain.”
"Spain can offer Emirati investors excellent opportunities in multiple sectors and can serve as a natural hub to access European and Latin American markets,” he said.
Pointing out the contribution of a healthy SME sector in capital accumulation, employment opportunities and regional development, Al Mansouri said the UAE and Spain can create opportunities to work together to develop this vital sector by exchanging information and sharing the best practices in the area of SME promotion and innovation.
"Let the SME sector become a crucial driver in improving the competitiveness of our economies and in the process generating greater investment traffic. The UAE will join hands with Spain on initiatives such as business forums and networking events for innovative UAE and Spanish entrepreneurs on a regular basis,” he said.
The UAE also expressed interest in enhancing cooperation with Spain in key areas such innovation, renewable energy, petro-chemicals, construction, education, healthcare, transportation and tourism. Bilateral flow of tourists reached close to 70,000 people in 2012, driven by the increased air connectivity between our countries.
Spain is the 15th largest economy in the world and the fourth largest in the Eurozone. The country has streamlined procedures for setting up businesses by reducing the number of licensing requirements. Spain's trade policy is the same as that of other members of the European Union, with the common EU weighted average tariff rate standing at 1.6 percent, according to the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom. Nearly all sectors in the country are open to foreign investment.
De Guindos explained that 2013 will be a transition year for Spain, "as the economy begins to show a quarterly growth profile that indicates that it will stabilise by year end and recover in 2014.”
From Khaleej Times