Coronavirus: UAE, China discuss cooperation amid COVID-19 economic fallout

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The UAE and China held high-level discussions Saturday discussing trade relations and the long-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the panelists taking part was Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, the UAE minister of state for foreign trade, Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, secretary-general of the Dubai Free Zone Council, and Huda Buhamid, board member of Hala China, a Dubai initiative aimed at showcasing the UAE to the Chinese diaspora, state news agency WAM reported.

“The UAE is China’s most important trade partner in the Arab world and is responsible for 28 per cent of total non-oil trade between China and the Arab countries. Currently, the UAE is home to over 4,000 Chinese companies, including those based in free zones. Apart from that, 404 Chinese trade agencies and 8,782 Chinese trademarks were registered in the UAE as of 2019,” Al Zeyoudi said, WAM reported.

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The first China-UAE Economic and Trade Digital Expo, which featured the panel discussion, was opened by Zhang Shenfeng, the vice chairmen of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT).

“This expo is a practical demonstration of the new road to recovery that the UAE and China are on. At the helm of the Belt and Road Initiative and as a member of the World Trade Organisation, WTO, China has contributed more than 30 percent to the world’s economy. This pandemic has only put a temporary stop to the world, and this is a start as the world readies itself once again for businesses to open,” Shenfeng said.

In attendance was also Ni Jian, China’s ambassador to the UAE, who highlighted the history between the two countries.

“We have a shared history of more than 2,000 years. The visits in 2018 by President Xi Jinping to the UAE and the visit of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to China have further strengthened this relationship,” he said, according to WAM.

The UAE’s ambassador to China, Dr. Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri, also attended the conference, and spoke about the close cooperation between the two countries in regards to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Data flows and digital services delivery, particularly across borders, have played a critical role in the pandemic response. From shopping to culture to doing business and being social, we have learned lessons that we will take forward, which makes the First China-UAE Economic and Trade Digital Expo very topical and timely,” he said.

Investment between China and the UAE has been on the rise in recent years. Between January and September 2019, China’s direct investment in the UAE reached 2.4 billion dirhams ($653.5 million), a 171 percent year-on-year increase, WAM reported.

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