The UAE and China are keen to expand economic collaboration with trade set to hit $70 billion next year.
The trade boost was announced during a meeting between Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing.
The meeting was held on the sidelines of the Second Belt and Road Conference for International Cooperation currently being held in the Chinese capital.
During Sheikh Mohammed’s visit to Beijing, major deals were signed and investments including the launch of 60 million square feet station at the new Silk Road in Dubai for Expo 2020.
Chinese firm Yiwu will invest $2.4 billion to use the station for storing and transporting Chinese goods from Jebel Ali to the world.
Sheikh Mohammed also announced plans for a $1 billion “vegetable basket”, funded by the China-Arab investment Fund which will import, process and pack agricultural products, marine and animal products and export them all over the world.
Sheikh Mohammed said that the UAE is working to further enhance its relationship and expand collaboration with China following the visit of Jinping to the UAE last year.
“The economic collaboration between the two countries adds a new strategic dimension to the historic UAE-China partnership, and we are keen to widen this collaboration. We look forward for exploring new collaboration opportunities between the public and private sectors of both countries. Our objective is to promote cooperation in every sphere,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
He said that the collaboration with China serves the future strategic vision of the UAE and supports the objectives of both countries to accelerate development.
“China is a great country with one of the world’s oldest civilisations. It has been our main commercial partner over the last five years, and we aim to increase the value of commercial exchange between the two countries to $70 billion by 2020.
“Our partnership supports the development efforts of both countries, and creates new growth opportunities. The strong mutual will to expand collaboration provides a strong basis for the realisation of our future joint strategic objectives,” he added.
The two countries are working to boost collaboration in the business sector at a time when the number of Chinese tourists to the UAE is on the rise. Over 850,000 Chinese tourists visited the UAE in 2018.
The two leaders also discussed means to boost collaboration between the private sectors of both countries, and ways that Chinese companies can benefit from the investment environment and strong infrastructure offered by the UAE.
The UAE provides Chinese businesses a platform to access vast emerging markets surrounding it with a total population of over 2 billion. Over 4,000 Chinese companies have already based their regional headquarters in the UAE.
Sheikh Mohammed praised the Belt and Road initiative, which paves the way for a new phase of international cooperation. He pledged the commitment of the UAE to providing all the support necessary to making the initiative a success.
He also praised China’s accomplishments in advanced sciences. “The technological and scientific advancements made by the Chinese provide an opportunity to increase knowledge exchange in building technical and human capabilities. Collaboration in building human capabilities is a key area in which we aim to expand our partnership,” he said.
Jinping praised Sheikh Mohammed’s efforts to enhance bilateral relations and cement ties between China and the UAE.
He also praised the leading role played by the UAE regionally and globally and its contribution to boosting international collaboration and building bridges between people.
The meeting comes as joint UAE-China investments are flourishing in various sectors including ports operations, the development of economic zones, industries, petrochemicals, oil and gas, technology, and others.
Sectors that the two countries are exploring future cooperation in include innovation, technology and scientific research, advanced sciences, artificial intelligence, and small and medium-sized projects.
China is the UAE’s main trade partner with non-oil trade between the two countries exceeding $53.3 billion in 2017.
The UAE accounted for 30 percent of Chinese exports to Arab countries, and 22 percent of the Sino-Arab trade in 2017.