France aims to boost economic and investment co-operation with Dubai in technology and sustainable energy in addition to other sectors as ties strengthen, according to Alain Griset, France’s minister delegate for small and medium enterprises.
“Under the leadership of President Macron we are focusing on digitalisation and here in Dubai it’s a promising land and has all the possibilities for investment cooperation and partnership,” Mr Griset told The National in an interview on Wednesday.
France will also focus on sustainable energy and technology, keys areas of development in Dubai, as the euro area’s second-largest economy looks to further cement its economic relationship with the commercial and tourism hub of the Middle East.
The UAE plans to spend Dh600 billion ($163.5bn) in clean and renewable energy sources in the next three decades to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and France sees “possibilities” for investment in the sector.
“Currently we have 600 businesses that are operating in Dubai. We look forward to further developing these businesses and supporting them,” Mr Griset said.
Mr Griset was in Dubai this week where he visited the French pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai and met with SME entrepreneurs taking part in the world's fair.
More than 400 French SMEs are expected to participate in the six-month event to present their activities and look for new investment opportunities.
“We will also look for ways for Dubai to invest in France. In the coming weeks and upcoming events, this will be the main focus in order to facilitate emirati investments into France,” Mr Griset said.
UAE-based companies, including Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Investment Company, are investing in France. The sovereign wealth fund invested in a French healthcare technology company through its €400 million venture capital fund last year. It is also backing French national investment bank Bpifrance’s LAC 1 fund.
Mr Griset said SMEs play an important role in France’s economy and the government has been extending financial support to these businesses to help them cope with the coronavirus pandemic crisis.
France has spent €80bn ($94bn) in various support programmes since March last year, which has benefited 650,000 French businesses with the majority being SMEs, he said.
“In 2020 and 2021, the bankruptcy rate (among companies) was lower due to support extended by the government,” Mr Griset said.
France is expected to grow 6.5 per cent this year on the back of stimulus measures and other support programmes, he said. The International Monetary Fund forecasts growth at about 6.3 per cent.
Total trade between Dubai and France touched Dh8.5bn in the first half of 2021. Jewellery, perfumes, medical products, textiles and leather were the top commodities of trade, according to Dubai Media Office.