Dubal Holding inks Belt and Road agreement with China’s Norinco

Deal outlines plans for collaboration in industrial, mining and energy sectors

A container ship sails off the dockyard in Qingdao in eastern China's Shandong province Wednesday, May 8, 2019. China's exports fell unexpectedly in April, adding to pressure on Beijing ahead of negotiations on ending a tariff war with Washington over Chinese technology ambitions. (Chinatopix Via AP)
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Dubal Holding, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Investment Corporation of Dubai, signed a collaboration agreement with state-owned China North Industries Corporation, or Norinco – the latest in a series of deals between the UAE and China as part of the latter’s $5 trillion-plus Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

“There are natural synergies when UAE and Chinese entities work together,” said Abdulnasser bin Kalban, chief executive of Dubal Holding.

“Under the framework of the BRI, we will be able to fully leverage the advantages of both companies and further deepen our co-operation.”

Under the agreement, signed during the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, the two entities pledged to collaborate in the industrial, mining and energy sectors.

China is the UAE’s biggest trading partner, with UAE-China bilateral trade exceeding $53.3bn in 2017, and plans to grow this to more than $70bn by 2020, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said recently.

There are already plenty of Chinese companies operating in the UAE, such as contractor the China State Construction Engineering Corporation, technology firm Huawei and China National Offshore Oil Corporation among others. There are also strong inflows of Chinese tourists to Dubai – almost half a million in the first half of 2018 – according to official figures.

The two countries are heightening efforts to increase economic collaboration and the BRI is providing additional impetus for this. Last month, Chinese companies signed two deals with Emirati firms as part of the BRI. These were: a $2.4bn investment by Chinese wholesale company Yiwu to build a logistics station close to the Expo 2020 Dubai site, and a deal between UAE ports operator DP World, China-Arab Investment Fund Management, Winland Investment Holding, China Co-op Group and Ocean Economic Development, to build a $1bn food manufacturing and processing plant called "Vegetable Basket" in Dubai.

“The deal[s] will position Dubai well in China’s planned Belt and Road, as Dubai will be a major supply link to the initiative,” said Sheikh Mohammed at the time.

Thirteen other memorandums of understanding were signed between Chinese and UAE ministries during the historic state visit of President Xi Jinping to the Emirates last year.

Dubal Holding invests in the fields of commodities and mining, power and industrial projects on behalf of the government of Dubai. Its largest asset is its 50 per cent ownership of Emirates Global Aluminium, which produces up to 2.6 million tonnes per year of primary aluminium.

Norinco mainly does business in the fields of strategic products, petroleum and mineral resources exploitation, international engineering contracting, civilian blasting products and integrated mining services, vehicles and logistics operation.