Classification of business activities to be unified

UAE Economy Minister Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri (MAGDY ISKANDAR)

The UAE has started unifying classification of business activities in a bid to end investor confusion as part of a long-term programme to attract capital and diversify its oil-reliant income.

The Ministry of Economy said it had created a committee to work on the unification and bridge the gap in the classification of economic activities that have created confusion and dissuaded investors in some emirates.

Economy Minister Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri issued a decision forming the committee and officials said it was in line with an earlier federal cabinet decision charging the Ministry with coordinating economic and business policies, plans and programmes between the country's seven emirates.

The decision, released by the ministry yesterday, involves the establishment of a committee grouping representatives from the Ministry of Economy and all competent local departments in the seven emirates to work "on completing the unified economic activities guide and implementing it from the date of its publication in the official gazette".

"Unifying economic and business activities in the UAE is a big positive step to develop the investment and economic environment," said Humaid bin Butti Al Muhairi, the ministry's assistant undersecretary for corporate affairs.

"The classification is very important because it will largely clarify economic activities, cut time, cost and efforts, and upgrade performance…," he said.

He said the unified classifications would cover all economic fields, including industry, business, trade, farming, and technical and professional sectors.

"It will provide a unified guide for all investors in all parts of the UAE for all types of businesses… this unification will eliminate the differences and confusion surrounding the name and classification of any type of business especially for those investors who have branches for their business in different emirates."

He said the unification would pave the way to issuing the long-awaited trade registrar, which will provide a comprehensive and accurate data base for all licensed activities and the size of invested capital. "This will contribute to better planning of economic strategies and legislations in the UAE."

The ministry's move coincides with a drive by the UAE to attract capital as part of an intensified economic diversification programme that also includes introduction of laws allowing full ownership by foreign investors. The reforms have started to pay off, with foreign direct investment flow into the UAE peaking at $19 billion (Dh70bn) in 2006.