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UAESBC: The business nexus between the UAE and Singapore
THE United Arab Emirates (UAE) is Singapore's leading trade and investment partner in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Two-way trade between the two countries amounted to US$18 billion in 2019. Conversely, Singapore is UAE's major trading partner in the GCC. UAE is also the largest investor in Singapore from the GCC with an estimated total investment of S$8 billion. The relationship between the two countries has grown from strength to strength over the years, which was further enhanced by the signing of the GCC-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in 2013.
The concept of setting up a UAE Singapore business council or chamber was mooted by the founder president of the UAE Singapore Business Council (UAESBC), Dr Brian Shegar, at the ASEAN-GCC Workshop organised by the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs in June 2014, to commemorate the launch and signing of the GCC-Singapore FTA.
The UAESBC was established in March 2018 with His Excellency Mohamed Omar Balfaqeeh, the former UAE ambassador to Singapore, and former Singapore Senior Minister of Trade and Industry, Lee Yi Shyan, as Patrons.
Subsequently in 2019, His Excellency Mohamed Ali Musabbeh Al Nuaimi, chairman of the Ras-Al-Khaimah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was appointed by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation as a Patron based in the UAE.
The UAESBC was mentioned as the platform for business to business connectivity between the two countries at the signing of the Singapore UAE Comprehensive Partnership (SUCP) agreement in February 2019, during the official visit to Singapore by His Royal Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the (UAE) Armed Forces.
The UAESBC has three categories of membership: corporate sponsor, ordinary corporate and individual. The corporate sponsor members sit on the executive committee (Exco), and include leading UAE companies in Singapore and Singapore companies active in the UAE. These include ADNOC, Al-Futtaim, Bank of Singapore, Borouge, Dnata, DP Architects, Emirates NBD, ENOC, First Abu Dhabi Bank, Global Foundries, Global Schools Foundation, IFFCO, OLAM, Singapore MedTech Accelerator and Surbana Jurong. The membership also includes a large number of Singapore SMEs who are interested in exploring new markets for their products and services in the UAE and the Middle East.
The primary objective of UAESBC is to provide a platform for member companies and individuals to interact and participate in various events that are organised to promote greater awareness of business and investment opportunities.
The UAEBSC organises quarterly breakfast talks, regular investment workshops and seminars featuring the major economic sectors that underpin the UAE economy such as, oil, petrochemical and logistics, food & beverage and technology. Outreach events are conducted with the major business chambers and trade associations in Singapore, with which joint trade missions are undertaken to the UAE. For example, in October 2019, the UAESBC jointly organised with the Franchising and Licensing Association (Singapore) a business delegation to Abu Dhabi and Dubai covering F&B, lifestyle and education sectors.
The UAESBC works closely with their strategic partners: the UAE Embassy in Singapore, Enterprise Singapore, Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce & Industry IRO Singapore and Singapore Business Federation.
- The writer is president of UAE Singapore Business Council