Opportunities for strengthening economic ties between the UAE and China were the focus of talks during a two-day visit to China by UAE Minister of state, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber.
The visit is expected to lay the groundwork for increased economic activity between UAE and China which is growing at more than 14 per cent annually. Discussions explored opportunities for collaboration and investment across sectors of mutual interest, including energy, infrastructure and technology.
During the visit, Al Jaber met with senior Chinese government officials, including the Vice Foreign Minister of China, Zhang Yesui. Talks were also held with Hu Zucai, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) as well as the Chief Economic Officer of China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE).
The NDRC holds administrative and planning control over the Chinese economy, with a function to formulate policies for economic and social development. The commission recently opened up 80 Chinese projects across a range of industries for private investment. The move was made parallel to China's foreign exchange regulatory agency, SAFE, announcing measures to ease foreign currency transactions and support foreign trade and investment in China. SAFE overseas over 4 trillion US dollars of China's external assets.
Minister Al Jaber also met with Zheng Zhijie, the vice chairman of the China Development Bank (CBD), and CEO of the China Development Bank Capital, Fan Haibin. CBD is primarily responsible for raising capital to fund large Chinese infrastructure projects, such as the Three Gorges Dam and Shanghai International Airport.
Commenting on his visit to Beijing, Dr Al Jaber said: "China and UAE have a strong and growing bilateral relationship based on shared values and common political and economic interests. We are exploring opportunities to collaborate across various sectors of mutual interest including, new and traditional energy, infrastructure, manufacturing, technology and finance." Trade between UAE and China topped Dh 169.67 billion (US $46.23 billion) in 2013, compared to Dh 148.27 billion (US $40.4 billion) in 2012. With 4,200 Chinese companies registered in UAE, the Emirates are the largest Middle East market for Chinese products.
"With the accelerated growth of both our economies and our common vision for partnership, we see tremendous opportunity in working together to support our development plans and to contribute to the broader global economy," added Al Jaber.
China's economy advanced 7.4 percent in the first quarter of 2014, slowing from a 7.7 percent expansion in the previous period, but beating market forecasts. Industrial production growth rose to 7.3 percent year on year. Manufacturing increased 9.9 percent and the production and supply of electricity, heat, gas and water went up by 4.5 percent.