Firms urged to seek opportunities in China

Ahmad bin Byat, Executive Chairman of Tecom.(FILE)


Leading Team Dubai at the Dubai-Hangzhou Economic Forum this week is Tecom Investments Executive Chairman and Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du) Chairman Ahmad bin Byat.

He is one of Dubai's best-known corporate leaders heading key economic initiatives aimed at developing Dubai's knowledge-based economy. He is a member of the board of Dubai Holding and also the Chairman of the Dubai Real Estate Corporation. He spoke to Emirates Business on his expectations from the 100-member Hangzhou delegation's visit. Excerpts:

In the overall China-Dubai and China-UAE trade and investment context, what importance do you attach to the Hangzhou delegation's visit? Why?

The scheduled visit of a 100-member delegation from the Chinese city of HangZhou to Dubai gains enormous significance as it comes close on the heels of the state visit to China by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The delegation's milestone visit testifies to a bilateral synergy and will lay the ground for cementing a more pronounced partnership in the future.

It is important that companies in Dubai recognise the need to seize this opportunity to connect with the Chinese delegation.

What is the value – in dirham terms – of partnerships that you have targeted to be forged during the visit?

Initiatives such as the Dubai-Hangzhou Economic Forum facilitate the meeting of industry leaders from both sides. We are confident it will result in significant outcomes that will generate increased trade between the two cities. However, it is a little premature to suggest a figure at this stage, although I must emphasise the forum will serve as a crucial platform for businesses to network and explore new opportunities that will forge unique and untapped partnerships.

Which sectors do you foresee will get the lion's share of partnerships forged – in percentage terms?

The delegation represents key sectors of real estate, banking and finance, and trade and hospitality. Given the increased interaction from both Dubai and Hangzhou, other leading business representatives from sectors such as construction, IT, environment, service outsourcing, manufacturing, education, chemical engineering and development zones will also participate in the event.

We are confident of establishing key ties that will register significant growth in the long term.

Why was Hangzhou chosen as the first such initiative after the visit to China by Sheikh Mohammed?

This is an initiative taken by the Hangzhou Government itself, and we have responded by showing our support and inclination to strengthen the UAE-China relations by welcoming the delegation. We hope the Hangzhou delegation's visit will encourage several other Chinese cities to initiate and participate in such strategic partnerships.

Over the last few years, Hangzhou has demonstrated a strong drive to boost the economy manifold. The city with a rich heritage of about 8,000 years has already captured the attention of investors from Far Eastern markets including Hong Kong, and is now expanding its vision further to the Middle East.

The government had, in fact, expressed keen interest to visit Dubai prior to the visit of His Highness, indicating a strong commitment to forge business partnerships in the region.

China runs trade surpluses with almost all the nations with which it trades, including the UAE, inspite of its high-value oil imports. Is that a worry? How do you see Dubai – and the UAE – closing the trade gap?

We do not see any major concerns in this regard. Our objective is to increase the trade between the UAE and China. We believe our relationship with China is continuously evolving, and the visit of His Highness accompanied by a large delegation in early April this year has further cemented this long-standing relationship.

What are your expectations from the UAE-China free trade agreement that is being hammered out?

A free trade agreement has always had a positive impact on the relationship between the two countries. In addition to increasing the flow of trade and skilled labour force, it has also generated enhanced levels of investment and tourism, particularly in tourism related business. Expectations are high from free trade agreements, which we believe will ultimately lead to a substantial increase in trade between the two countries.