Covid-19 has reawakened the human desire for collaboration

Abu Dhabi climbs 14 places to the 42nd rank in the 2020 Smart Cities Index. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National. 
Abu Dhabi climbs 14 places to the 42nd rank in the 2020 Smart Cities Index. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National. 

Even as the novel coronavirus started to spread like wildfire earlier this year, prompting the World Health Organisation to declare it a pandemic in March, who could have imagined its intensity, severity and the extent of persistence and resilience?

In a short span of time, the Covid-19 virus has not just claimed hundreds of thousands of lives across the world, but it has changed the way we live and think. Never in the history of mankind have we looked so helpless and vulnerable before the forces of nature.

While the world, in a state of shock, stares at an uncertain future, it is optimism and hope that keep us going. These characteristics that are inbuilt in us help us to realise the ephemerality of anything that we encounter – for that matter, good and bad.

Another aspect of humanity that the pandemic has highlighted is our instinct to collaborate and maintain solidarity in the face of danger. Thus, while businesses and livelihoods are taking a severe beating across the globe, individuals and organisations are making every effort to help each other to face a new world, whether by offering innovative and alternative ideas, or through financial assistance.

Consider the efforts of Abu Dhabi Exports Office (Adex), the UAE export-financing entity founded by Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), to help export businesses in our country to gear up for the future through tailored products and services.

Optimism is infectious, they say. And it is this sense of optimism that has prodded Adex to join hands with Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI), the federal export credit company, to combine their complementary suite of financial and insurance products and services, and to bring to needy businesses a full range of credit facilities – direct financing, guarantees and export credit insurance.

As agreed, Adex will expand its range of existing buyers credit facilities in the form of loans and guarantees to include loans guaranteed by ECI to stimulate the import of "Made in UAE" products from foreign buyers. ECI will offer our exporters access to its extensive database of more than 300 million companies worldwide to establish a new customer portfolio.

The two entities, which will collaborate to develop new products to help UAE companies and their overseas buyers address the immediate liquidity and cash-flow issues, have also partnered on a national education campaign to help business leaders understand how to effectively leverage this combined offering to increase global competitiveness and to safely access new global markets.

In addition, our exporters can access an Dh550 million allocated by Adex to drive export transactions either directly through Adex or through a new offering that provides direct loans to overseas buyers to import our goods and services that are guaranteed by ECI. We are also working together to explore potential development of new joint products to both stimulate export growth, as well as ease supply-chain liquidity challenges.

Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, director general of the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, believes people and institutions are coming together. Antonie Robertson / The National
Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, director general of the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, believes people and institutions are coming together. Antonie Robertson / The National

There is no denying that the export opportunity for our companies is very real. It can anchor their Covid-19 business recovery efforts as well as long-term sustainable growth strategies. They can do that with confidence that they have a powerful, diverse national export-community support network behind them and the nation.

The support extends beyond our national boundaries, with ADFD having joined the Arab Co-ordination Group (ACG) Institutions’ Dh36.7 billion commitment to help developing countries respond to the pandemic and recover economically.

Initially focused on helping developing nations to obtain medical supplies and protective equipment they need, the support would later on include technical assistance, grants, concessional loans, financing, trade insurance and capacity development programmes. The decision came close on the heels of another initiative, whereby ADFD announced an Dh1bn support fund by way of concessionary loans for national companies operating in sectors crucial to our economy, such as healthcare, food security and manufacturing.

The Abu Dhabi Exports Office is helping export businesses in the UAE to gear up for the future through tailored products and services. AFP
The Abu Dhabi Exports Office is helping export businesses in the UAE to gear up for the future through tailored products and services. AFP

Additionally, the fund has decided to suspend debt service repayments during 2020 for eligible countries, as well as individual businesses, in the developing world to help them weather the economic fallout of the pandemic.

While these initiatives underscore the importance of responding to each situation differently, the current crisis has also taught us that we need solidarity, hope and the will more than ever to build resilience and to recover – economically and socially – from crises of this magnitude.

It is a moment of reckoning.

Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi is the director general of Abu Dhabi Fund for Development

Published: July 19, 2020 01:00 PM

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