Dubai well-positioned to strengthen ties with Latin America

According to the latest IMF figures, the LATAM economy, which grew by six per cent in real terms in 2021, is expected to grow by 4.3 per cent between 2021 and 2025


Rohma Sadaqat

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Abdulaziz Al Ghurair, chairman of Dubai Chambers - Supplied
Abdulaziz Al Ghurair, chairman of Dubai Chambers - Supplied

Published: Thu 24 Mar 2022, 1:59 PM

A strong focus on trade and investment, backed by sound policies and regulations, means that Dubai is well-positioned to strengthen its ties with Latin America, said Abdulaziz Al Ghurair, chairman of Dubai Chambers.

Speaking to Khaleej Times during the Global Business Forum Latin America (GBF LATAM) 2022, Al Ghurair said that Dubai accounts for 80 per cent of Latin America’s trade with the UAE, and that its non-oil trade with the LATAM region reached Dh39.1 billion in 2020, marking an increase of over 60 per cent when compared to 2011.

Organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Expo 2020 Dubai, the fourth edition of GBF LATAM explores new avenues of economic cooperation between the UAE, Latin American, and Caribbean countries.

Experts at the event noted that the involvement of various government, private, and semi-government stakeholders, coupled with Dubai’s strategic location as an entryway to access Asia, Europe, and Africa, means that there is no shortage of opportunities for collaboration on both sides. According to the latest IMF figures, the LATAM economy, which grew by six per cent in real terms in 2021, is expected to grow by 4.3 per cent between 2021 and 2025.

“Our main target is to increase bilateral trade and investment,” said Al Ghurair. “Building our trade with LATAM countries is part of Dubai’s efforts to boost its foreign trade from the current $380 billion to $545 billion over the next five years.”

“We will be working very closely with these countries to identify trade and investment opportunities in promising sectors for Dubai companies, and assist foreign companies with their entry into the Dubai market. Trade between Dubai and LATM countries has not yet reached its full potential and we aim to unlock new trade and investment opportunities through our interactions at GBF LATAM 2022,” he said.

Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, also noted that the UAE is looking to diversify its investments globally, and that Latin America is a “very important region” for the UAE. “We are talking about more than 400 million people. Looking at what has been achieved over the last five years in Latin America, the UAE has dominated most investments from the GCC into the region. At the same time, our trade volume now sits at $9 billion, which shows there is huge potential for trade.”

“Latin America is a global source of food products, the continent is going to be one of the solutions to the global food security disturbances, which we saw during the pandemic and we are now seeing once again. Going into the region, we want to encourage the private sector; we cannot go and expand the relationship without the private sector. We want to ensure the investment protection agreements are there and to highlight the opportunities to investors,” Al Zeyoudi said.

Asked which sectors are the most promising when it comes to new business opportunities between the UAE and Latin American companies, Al Ghurair said: “Fintech, renewable energy, agribusiness, logistics, digital transformation, and tourism are some of the sectors that we believe offer mutually beneficial business opportunities.”

For instance, he noted that LATAM countries during the pandemic witnessed a phenomenal growth in e-commerce. However, the online retail market accounts for only a very small percentage of the retail sector, and this means that there is “tremendous” scope for businesses to explore the LATAM e-commerce space and look for synergies.

“Similarly, the food and agriculture sector in general along with the halal industry offers exciting avenues for cooperation,” he said. “So there are numerous opportunities for cooperation and knowledge transfer and this is what we have been discussing at GBF LATAM, which provides us with the platform to share ideas and find ways to build on our economic relations.”

Al Ghurair also pointed out that Dubai Chamber operates three offices in Latin America - Panama City, Panama; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Buenos Aires, Argentina. “We are planning to open an office in Mexico in the very near future, which will be an important development given that the country was the second largest trading partner in Latina America for Dubai in the first half of 2021. Also, our flagship events, such as GBF LATAM play a key role in Dubai’s efforts to boost its foreign trade and explore new avenues of economic cooperation between Dubai and the 27 countries of the LATAM and Caribbean region.”

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