UAE and Germany enjoy excellent relations

New technologies that accelerate the energy transition and contribute to the mitigation of the effects of climate change

By Muzaffar Rizvi

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Published: Thu 30 Nov 2023, 1:44 PM

Last updated: Thu 30 Nov 2023, 1:45 PM

Germany and the UAE have been enjoying excellent relations on multiple fronts and the coming years will be decisive for collaboration to implement new technologies that accelerate the energy transition and contribute to the mitigation of the effects of climate change.

Alexander Schönfelder, Germany’s Ambassador to the UAE, said both countries have been working together to expand their ‘trustful partnership’.

“We see a huge potential in building partnership with the UAE for an international hydrogen economy. Cooperation is also essential for the establishment of relevant standards as well as flagship projects,” Schönfelder said during an interview.

Excerpts from the interview:

The UAE-German bilateral trade currently stands at $10 billion annually. What is the latest progress on UAE-Germany bilateral trade and investment?

The growing bilateral trade and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) figures provide tangible evidence of the strong relationship between Germany and the UAE across multiple sectors. The UAE is retaining its position as Germany’s most important trading partner in the region. A particularly positive development is the increase of bilateral trade in capital goods.

Machinery and equipment is now the second largest commodity imported into the UAE from Germany. Aluminum products are the main export goods of the UAE to Germany – definitely an indicator of the successful economic diversification strategy.

Likewise, German investment in the UAE has been steadily growing over the past years. The UAE has strategically positioned itself to attract foreign direct investment and to promote economic diversity.

What is more, the investment goes both ways. This year, Masdar joined Spain’s Iberdrola to co-invest in the Baltic Eagle offshore wind farm in the German Baltic Sea. The UAE has one of the most dynamic clean energy sectors in the world and it is one of our main areas of cooperation.

What new initiatives have you taken to promote bilateral ties and investment between the two countries since you assumed office?

I am delighted to be here in the UAE and to further deepen our excellent relations and the strong links between our countries. It has been a very busy one and a half year: our relations have witnessed numerous milestones. Chancellor Scholz and Foreign Minister Baerbock paid high-level visits and Germany welcomed several UAE ministers.

During Chancellor Scholz’s visit last year, our leaders agreed on further developing our longstanding Strategic Partnership. Furthermore, the Energy Security and Industry Accelerator (ESIA) Agreement gave an immense boost to our bilateral energy cooperation. It enables a swift implementation of strategic lighthouse projects in the focus areas of renewable energies, hydrogen, LNG and climate action. A pilot shipment of low-carbon ammonia to Hamburg paved the way for a cleaner hydrogen value chain involving production, storage, distribution and use of green hydrogen.

Last but not least, I would like to highlight the close cooperation between Germany and the UAE in preparation for COP28. Leading up to COP28, the German Embassy and the German Emirati Joint Council for Industry and Commerce (AHK) organised a series of events on sustainability issues aimed to facilitate a fruitful exchange of expertise and ideas between our two nations.

Please evaluate bilateral diplomatic, trade, economic and investment ties in the past and how do you see the outlook for the next five years?

We enjoy excellent relations. Since the establishment of our diplomatic relations in 1972, both countries have been working together to expand our trustful partnership. Our two economies complement each other and are intertwined in the global value chain, which bodes well for further economic cooperation and trade. We see our diplomatic, trade and investment relationship as a mutually beneficial two-way street where both partners constantly move the relationship forward.

The coming years will be decisive for our collaboration to implement new technologies that accelerate the energy transition and contribute to the mitigation of the effects of climate change. We see a huge potential in building partnership with the UAE for an international hydrogen economy. Cooperation is also essential for the establishment of relevant standards as well as flagship projects.

The UAE is a time-tested ally of Germany and both nations recently signed strategic agreements on clean energy and climate change.

Germany and the UAE entered into an energy partnership in 2017. Since last year, climate action forms an additional pillar of the partnership, supporting projects that promote a climate-friendly energy supply. As part of this rapidly growing partnership, Germany and the UAE jointly create the basis for decarbonising the energy sector. Development of renewable energy projects and establishing international hydrogen value chains are examples of this effort. In the framework of the Climate and Energy Partnership, the UAE commissioned Fraunhofer research institutes for the UAE’s recently published National Hydrogen Strategy, which foresees a green hydrogen production of up to 1.4 million tonnes in 2030.

The climate change is the biggest security threat of our times. How does Germany address this issue?

In recent years, Germany has increasingly directed its foreign policy focus toward the effects and risks of climate change. In Germany’s National Security Strategy, the government addresses growing threats that include the consequences of climate change and the increased need for critical raw materials. Exceeding the 1.5°C temperature limit of the Paris Climate Agreement would jeopardize the prospect of living in security and prosperity in Germany and globally.

The climate emergency is the most challenging security issue of our time. However, it is not an isolated crisis. Climate change is contributing to an increasing amount of natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts. It is adversely affecting peace and stability around the globe.

Our principal aim must be to drastically reduce global emissions, which are currently still on the rise. We must deliver urgently needed climate results. At the same time, it is necessary to pursue adaptation strategies and to take appropriate action to prevent or minimize the damage climate change can cause. Security has to be robust, resilient and sustainable.

In October, the German Federal Foreign Office hosted the Berlin Climate and Security Conference for the fifth time. The climate security community met in Berlin to discuss the most urgent and cutting-edge issues in climate and security today. They also addressed challenges like securing critical minerals for a conflict-sensitive energy transition.

Both Germany and the UAE use their active role in the United Nations to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on security policy.

The UAE and Germany are cooperating in energy transition. How do you see this transition to promote clean energy usage in both the countries?

Renewable energies are a central pillar of the energy transition. Both Germany and the UAE are rapidly expanding renewable energy sources and the required transmission networks with the goal of tripling renewable power and doubling energy efficiency by 2030.

Together with the UAE, Germany is working towards the global development of the hydrogen economy. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action has launched the procurement procedure for the import of green hydrogen under the H2Global programme. It will identify the world’s first market price for green hydrogen. The H2Global instrument can also play an important role in developing the hydrogen market in the UAE.

The UAE is hosting COP28 starting Nov 30. Please share details about Germany participating delegation and strategic plans to support UAE’s initiatives on climate change.

Together with our Chancellor Olaf Scholz, five ministers and in total more than 400 delegates participate in COP28 — one of the largest delegations. This underlines our strong commitment to climate action as well as our close partnership with the UAE. Germany has endorsed several of the UAE’s presidential COP initiatives such as the COP28 Declaration on Climate and Health.

Last year, the G7 under Germany’s presidency stated its intention to form the Climate Club, a group of countries supporting the acceleration of climate action and increasing ambition, with a particular focus on the industry sector. The Climate Club will formally launch in Dubai on December 1 with the goal to advance consensus across a wide range of climate, trade and development policies.


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