H.E. Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi Highlights U.A.E. Priorities for Foreign Trade


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28 June, 2022

The U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council hosted a luncheon discussion on Tuesday, June 28th in Washington, D.C. in honor of visiting U.A.E. Minister of State for Foreign Trade His Excellency Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi. H.E. Dr. Al Zeyoudi is in Washington, D.C. to lead the U.A.E. delegation to SelectUSA, which is the highest-profile event in the United States dedicated to promoting foreign direct investment. H.E. Dr. Al Zeyoudi also had a number of important meetings with U.S. Government officials. H.E. Dr. Al Zeyoudi previously visited Florida, where his delegation worked to expand the strong relations between the state of Florida and the U.A.E.   

This event was attended by representatives of U.S. state economic development and trade organizations, including representatives from California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, and Virginia. This participation comes ahead of numerous expected trade delegations led by U.S. governors to the U.A.E. this fall. 

H.E. Dr. Al Zeyoudi characterized the past year as “one of the most transformative years in the history of the U.A.E.”  He discussed the groundbreaking free trade deals that the U.A.E. has struck with countries like India and Israel, noting that these deals were made in record times and will take each economy to “the next level.” On the deal with India, His Excellency said that the U.A.E. seeks to be the “Hong Kong to the India market.” He also noted how each trade deal and effort to strengthen the U.A.E.’s status as a world leader in supply chains and logistics will greatly strengthen the global supply chain in the midst of the strain it currently faces. As an example of the U.A.E.’s prowess as a trade and transshipment hub, he noted that the U.A.E. is the largest exporter of tea in the world, despite producing no tea in the country.  H.E Dr. Al Zeyoudi also noted that the U.A.E. and Indonesia intended to sign a new free trade agreement later this week.

H.E. Dr. Al Zeyoudi also spoke about some of the U.A.E.’s ambitious social and economic reforms collectively known as the “Projects of the 50” that empower the vision of the U.A.E.’s leadership to double the size of the U.A.E. economy over the next decade. His Excellency detailed the U.A.E.’s efforts to become a global business hub,  through specific initiatives such as liberalization of foreign ownership restrictions, and modernization of visa and work permit programs. His Excellency encouraged U.S. companies to visit the U.A.E. and begin exploring its market, and listed key sectors where the U.A.E. is keen to expand investment, such as health care, education, FinTech, artificial intelligence, and renewable energies. He told the audience his key message is that the U.A.E. is an “open, adaptable, dynamic market” that is offering “new ways of thinking.”

In a fireside chat moderated by Business Council President Danny Sebright, H.E. Dr. Al Zeyoudi emphasized the strong partnership between the U.S. and the U.A.E. and commended the key role that the private sector and business organizations like the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council play in strengthening the bilateral relationship. H.E. also said the private sector was “key” in helping the U.A.E. achieve its sustainability goals, noting how the U.A.E.’s strategy ahead of COP28 is based on working with the private sector to better the public-private partnership needed to combat climate change.  He remarked, “the private sector has the money, technology and talent.”

Additionally, H.E. Juma Al Kait, Assistant Undersecretary  of Foreign Trade Affairs  at the U.A.E.’s Ministry of Economy, noted the ways in which the U.A.E.’s post-Covid rebound and economic diversification efforts have opened the door for further investment in many sectors. H.E. Al Kait said the U.A.E. is always looking to expand its work in space and high technology sectors, as examples, and that these sectors present an opportunity for increased collaboration with U.S. businesses.

H.E. Al Kait also stressed the U.A.E.’s emphasis on developing intellectual property within its borders, noting the latest IP law that the country has announced. He remarked, “Without IP, there is no innovation.”

During a question and answer session with Business Council members and partners, H.E. Dr. Al Zeyoudi emphasized the eagerness with which the U.A.E. and its allies in the Middle East are anticipating for U.S. President Joe Biden’s upcoming July visit, noting there will be concrete discussions on ways to increase and diversify the partnership between the U.S. and its allies. 

Asked about China, H.E. Al Kait said the U.A.E.’s relationship with China is very important, with its non-oil trade totaling over $60 billion. He added that the “objective of the U.A.E.’s trade policies” is to have a “good relationship with everyone” and “diversify its trade with all countries.” H.E. Al Kait said Chinese businesses have been very proactive in visiting the U.A.E. and establishing a presence on the ground, and urged U.S. companies to do the same. H.E. Al Kait concluded by noting how China sees the U.A.E. as a gateway to the region. 

In 2021, bilateral trade between the U.S. and the U.A.E. totaled $23.03 billion, with the U.S. exporting more than $17 billion of goods and services to the U.A.E. — a 16% increase from 2020. The resulting $11.13 billion trade surplus for the U.S. is America’s sixth largest trade surplus globally, reflecting the success of the U.A.E.’s efforts to diversify their economy. Some of the most important trade verticals between the two countries include electronics, nuclear materials, passenger vehicles, and aircraft and spacecraft. U.S.-U.A.E. trade supports 120,000+ American jobs, strengthening the importance of the continued bilateral trade relationship.

For more information on the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council’s upcoming programming please contract Ameer Alsamman at aalsamman@usuaebusiness.org