UAE and Spain explore private sector investment opportunities

Non-oil trade between the two countries exceeded $2.6 billion in 2022

Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi – non-oil trade between the UAE and Spain exceeded $2.6 billion in 2022. Photo: supplied
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The UAE and Spain are exploring bilateral investment exchange opportunities in areas such as technology, food security, transformative industries and logistics, the UAE Ministry of Economy said on Thursday.

Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, held a meeting with Xiana Mendez, Secretary of State for Trade at the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism to explore the strengthening of trade and economic co-operation, the ministry said.

Non-oil trade between the two countries exceeded $2.6 billion last year, while the UAE’s non-oil exports to Spain totalled $360 million and re-exports amounted to $181 million.

“The bilateral trade figures demonstrate the rapid growth of UAE-Spain economic relations,” Dr Al Zeyoudi said.

“We are keen to strengthen our economic and trade partnership with Spain, especially since Spain is the UAE’s fifth-largest European trade partner as of 2022.”

Spain accounted for more than 5 per cent of the UAE’s total non-oil trade with the EU.

“The Spanish market is a key global market that enjoys special attention from the UAE’s business community. The UAE’s total investments in Spain reached approximately $3.8 billion by the end of 2021 while Spanish foreign direct investment in the UAE totalled $72 million by the end 2020,” Dr Al Zeyoudi said.

The meeting between the ministers explored ways to enhance existing economic and trade relations between the two countries.

Both parties agreed to support investment exchanges in the fields of entrepreneurship, tourism, innovation, technology, food security, real estate, logistics, mining, transformative industries, renewable energy and other future economy sectors that support the sustainable development of both economies, the statement said.

The UAE economy made a strong recovery from the coronavirus-induced slowdown and the pace of economic momentum has continued to improve on the back of government initiatives, higher oil prices, a strong performance in its real estate sector and a rebound in travel and tourism.

The Emirates' economy is estimated to have grown by 7.6 per cent last year, the highest in 11 years, after expanding by 3.9 per cent in 2021, according to the UAE Central Bank.

Overall, the country’s economy is projected to grow 3.9 per cent in 2023, according to the central bank.

The UAE’s non-oil foreign trade reached a record Dh2.23 trillion ($607.1 billion) last year, as the Arab world’s second-largest economy accelerates efforts to reduce its dependence on hydrocarbons and boosts its economic partnerships globally.

China, Asia's largest economy, was the UAE's top trading partner during the period, with trade between the two countries at Dh264.5 billion. It was followed by India (Dh180.9 billion), Saudi Arabia (Dh135.2 billion) and the US (Dh110 billion).

The UAE has already signed a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with India, Asia’s third-largest economy, Indonesia and Israel. It is currently holding similar negotiations with Turkey, Georgia, Colombia and Cambodia.

The Cepa agreements with India, Israel and Indonesia are expected to expand the UAE’s economy by 2.6 per cent by 2030, Dr Al Zeyoudi said last year.

The UAE offers diverse opportunities and incentives that can support the growth of Spanish companies in the UAE and the wider Mena region, Dr Al Zeyoudi said on Thursday.

Updated: February 23, 2023, 12:04 PM