Businesses and government leaders from the European Union and the GCC came together at the 5th EU-GCC Business Forum that focused on how to drive the post-pandemic recovery in the EU and the GCC towards a green and digital transition.
The event took place at Expo2020, Dubai, UAE on October 23 with panel discussions that covered different topics as part of ‘Accelerating GCC Economic Diversification After the Crisis – The Way Forward’.
“Our well-established EU-GCC cooperation provides the right framework to advance together towards a sustainable economic model. As we move on, we should learn lessons from the pandemic and use the opportunity to do things better,” said Margaritas Schinas, Vice-President of the European Union
The forum involved sessions that covered topics such as Enhancing EU-GCC Trade & Investment, Innovation & Economic Acceleration, and Trade & Investment Opportunities in the GCC with speakers from Europe and the GCC region that discussed the potentials for each segment and future plans.
“The possibilities are huge for more EU-GCC economic cooperation, trade and investment in an increasingly green and digitalised global economy. We should tap on the full potential of this emerging new dimension of cooperation between our regions. I am sure that today’s impressive EU-GCC Business Forum will contribute to this objective in a significant and tangible way,” said Stefan Schleuning, Head of Unit, FPI.4-Industrial Countries and Foreign Policy Support.
Session 1 covered “Enhancing EU-GCC Trade and Investment Opportunities” that highlighted the importance of Innovation labs for women to prepare them for highly paid roles with extraordinary skills; eliminate gender and social gaps; in addition to promoting business opportunities arising from the transition.
The points covered:
• In Digital and green: very significant challenges regarding climate change; it takes visionaries to seize these opportunities to fund smart agriculture and export to the rest of the world.
• Chemicals, machinery, manufacturing, transport – can take a greener and more digital framework. Smart mobility is an area for investment; waste energy plants provide additional opportunities for private sector to invest; smart cities combine green and digital areas and there are many opportunities for knowledge exchange and business partnerships.
• How to make sure SMEs take advantage of green and digital? SMEs do not only have to be agile but also to overcome challenges around financing.
• How is public finance best directed to increase trade and investment? eg., designing policies to support trade and investment in the GCC in addition to commercial law reforms to allow 100% foreign ownership of business. Attracting companies to UAE and providing their founders with Golden Visas for 10 years.
• UAE has strong capital markets, sovereign funds, banks that invest in start ups to help them scale up.
In Session 2; Speakers covered “Innovation & Economic Acceleration” including the EU space programme which provides full access to data collected free of charge for the benefit of the world as a whole. Water scarcity which is a big challenge for the region; and the efforts that are being made to reduce food waste and increase energy from food waste.
Session 3 in concluding the event included presentations from the six GCC countries. Some of the interesting points that were covered by the UAE speaker included:
• The UAE had advanced 9 ranks in the inflow of foreign investment in 2020, to 15th globally, with a growth rate of 11.2%
• The UAE advanced 6 ranks globally in the outflow of foreign investment in 2020, to rank 13th globally.
• The UAE’s Golden Visa is available in the UAE for international investors and top talent from around the world, providing them with visas for up to 10 years.
• The UAE’s investment environment is marked by stability, modern infrastructure, effective economic policy, and modern economic legislations.
• Laws to protect foreign capital (Such as IPR, Competition, Money Laundering, and Trusts) are either in place or being updated.
• Ambitious legislative reforms to ensure efficiency, transparency, and investor confidence are underway. – TradeArabia News Service