Nothing should prevent 100 per cent foreign ownership of projects, especially in the industrial sector, said the UAE Minister of Economy, adding there is nothing to fear from foreign investment.
“The real protection for nationals is the presence of successful investment, and as long as this investment [by foreign investors] is useful for the country, why should foreigners not own these projects, especially if these business projects involve a huge amounts of capital, and big companies and countries compete for them,” said Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri (pictured above).
“We know that the issue is sensitive, but we will undoubtedly protect nationals.”
To promote discussion, the minister invited all concerned parties to comment on a proposed amendment to the industrial law that has been published by the ministry on its website www.economy.ae.
Al Mansouri made the comments yesterday in response to a question from a member of the board of Abu Dhabi Higher Corporation for Specialised Economic Zones (ZonesCorp) and chairman of the Executive Committee, Hussein Jassim Al Nuwais.
The two were at a meeting at ZonesCorp headquarters after a four-hour inspection tour by Al Mansouri of plants in Abu Dhabi Industrial City in Al Musaffah.
Al Nuwais asked about the possibility of the ministry studying applications by some foreign investors to own 100 per cent of projects they set up in Abu Dhabi.
“This is one of the most important issues we are facing in attracting foreign investors to Abu Dhabi. We have a lot of raw materials, especially in the petrochemical sector, which we export to China and Japan. Then we buy them [back] after manufacturing at a huge cost. If we set up industries for these materials in Abu Dhabi, we would make huge profits,” said Al Nuwais.
“We offered big international firms huge industrial projects and they liked them. We discussed the required procedures, then the investors asked for full ownership, and the projects stopped, despite being highly important.”
Al Nuwais identified three areas that require huge investment and would potentially benefit from foreign ownership – petrochemicals, aluminum and iron. All three industries, he said, require a large amount of capital and expertise to run effectively.
The ZonesCorp’s Al Nuwais said: “If Abu Dhabi focuses on its investment on these industries it will achieve unprecedented industrial revival since these industries create other supplementary industries.”
For his part, the minister promised to study the problem and find effective solutions.
Door opens to foreign buyers