Talks aimed at boosting economic links between the UAE and the Netherlands took place during a visit by Dutch Foreign Trade Minister Frank Heemskerk.
“We are looking to encourage investment from the UAE into the Netherlands and vice versa,” Heemskerk told Emirates Business. He said trade between the countries would benefit from an upsurge if the Gulf Co-operation Council and the European Union signed a free trade agreement.
“An agreement would benefit both sides tremendously. It would help in creating more trade between the two countries, more transparency and fewer regulations and tariffs. The policy would lead to more foreign investment from both sides,” he said.
Heemskerk officially opened the Dubai office of the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) and promoted the organisation’s activities at government and business levels. The office has been set up to further strengthen economic and investment relations with Dubai and enhance bilateral trade with the emirate’s business community, he said.
“Through this office we will tell potential investors from the UAE and the whole of the GCC region about the investment climate in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is the world’s ninth largest exporting country and the fifth largest source of direct investment. It is also one of the world’s largest agricultural exporters in value terms. The Dutch economy is heavily reliant on foreign trade, mainly in the services sector. The Netherlands ranks sixth in the latest global rankings for the best business environments.”
Heemskerk said trade between the two countries has grown in recent years.
“In 2006 the Netherlands’ exports to the UAE were worth $1.8 billion (Dh6.6bn) – 15 per cent higher than in the previous year. Imports from the UAE were worth $600 million. Dutch investments in the UAE amounted to $122m in 2006, excluding services. The UAE invested $186m in the Netherlands.
“The main exports from the Netherlands to the UAE include machinery, foodstuffs, chemical products and services. Dutch imports from the UAE mostly include fossil fuels,” he added.
Heemskerk promoted sustainable energy and advanced water technologies during his visit. Abdul Rahman Saif Al Ghurair, First Vice-Chairman of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “We believe this visit will enhance our bilateral trade volumes, which have benefited from the efforts of the Dutch Business Council established in the UAE in 1997. The council has co-operated with the chamber and other commercial organisations here to help promote Dutch products and attract more Dutch investment to the region,” he said.