Chinese companies are increasingly eyeing Abu Dhabi to set up businesses, according to the regional head of a Chinese trade body.
Zhang Xijing, the representative for the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said that since the landmark visit to China last year by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, investors have beaten a track to the UAE to conduct feasibility studies on potential projects, especially telecommunications and infrastructure. “With the efforts of the China Business Council and the embassy, we have called upon Chinese enterprises to make investments,” the Sharjah-based Mr Zhang said on the sidelines of UAE-China business conference on Tuesday.
“We have invited many Chinese delegations to come to the UAE to make feasibility studies. We are making efforts but it takes time. For many Chinese people, this country is new to them as an investment destination, so they have to come and see the fields.”
Mr Zhang was attending a conference to promote business between China and Abu Dhabi in the capital where more than 200 people gathered to hear presentations and engage in panel discussions.
Those debates sometimes became lively as Chinese businessmen recounted the challenges of doing business here, while other long-standing investors based in the UAE highlighted advantages such as lack of taxation that more than compensate for the kind of bureaucratic hurdles often encountered in developing nations.
The Tourism Development and Investment Company, a real estate developer, and the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company were among companies that gave presentations highlighting investment opportunities, such as refining and petrochemicals.
The conference comes amid deepening ties between the two countries after Sheikh Mohammed made a three-day official visit to China in December.
During that trip, the investment fund Mubadala said it would launch a joint fund worth US$10 billion with two Chinese state institution to invest in sectors with strategic importance for the UAE and China.
“His Highness Sheikh Mohammed opened the door to a new phase of the relationship between the UAE and China,” said Ahmad Mohamed bin Ghannam, the acting executive director of international relations at the Department of Economic Development.
Liu Guoqiang, the chairman of the Chinese Business Council, said that the UAE has been the biggest trade partner in the Middle East and North Africa for many years, with more than 300,000 Chinese business people living and working in the UAE. That is in addition to the more than 4,000 Chinese companies registered in the UAE and 5,451 Chinese brands sold in the UAE market, he said.
He Song, a business councillor at the Chinese embassy in Abu Dhabi, said both countries were united by a desire to diversify their economies, despite the 17 per cent year-on-year drop in bilateral trade to $20.2bn for the first half of the year as global trade slows.
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