Sharjah 14th February 2017
Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) met with a prominent Belgian economic delegation headed by Pieter De Crem, Belgian Federal Secretary of State for Foreign Trade. During the meeting, both parties discussed cooperation opportunities between Sharjah and Belgium and efforts of strengthening the bilateral economic ties and reciprocal investment.
This meeting was held on the side-lines of the Belgian economic delegation visit to the UAE, organised by the state’s chambers of commerce and industry and the Arab-Belgium-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce. The visit spans from 12-17 February, and aims to look into opportunities for developing collaboration between the two countries.
The forum was hosted by the Sharjah Chamber at its headquarters on Monday and attended by HE Abdullah Sultan Al Owais, Chairman of the SCCI; Dominique Mineur, Ambassador of Belgium to UAE; and Qaisar Hijazi, Secretary General of the Arab-Belgium- Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce.
The meeting was also attended by members of the Chamber’s Board of Directors; HE Waleed Abdulrahman Bukhatir, Second Vice Chairman of SCCI; HE Marwan Bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq); and a number of Sharjah business representatives.
The Belgian delegation also included representatives from 29 firms and organisations that specialize in different sectors such as construction, food and beverages, engineering, services, consultancy, banking and financial services, interior design, legal and industrial services, and electricity.
Commenting on the visit, Al Owais pointed out that the Emirate of Sharjah has become a unique destination for foreign investment and a pivotal commercial hub in the region. Due to its strategic geographical location between East and West and as the only location with direct access to both the Gulf and Indian Ocean, Sharjah offers a gateway to 160 countries and more than two billion consumers worldwide. Sharjah is also unique for its economic power; contributing about one third of the revenues of processing industries in UAE, in addition to being a booming touristic and cultural destination.
Similarly, the Belgian Federal Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, Pieter De Crem, emphasised the strength of Sharjah-Belgian economic and commercial relations, highlighting his country’s keenness to maintain the enhancement of bilateral cooperation between the two countries within the business and investment sector and all other major economic sectors.
De Crem said that “there are over 3500 Belgians living in UAE which comes 16th on the list of Belgium’s top import markets and 23rd on account of its volume of exports to Belgium. The UAE is considered Belgium’s chief trade partner in the Arab world; Belgian companies operate in numerous sectors and key industries such as diamond and jewellery, oil, infrastructure, food and luxury products.”
By the same token, Director-General of Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, HE Khalid bin Butti Al Hajri revealed that exports and re-exports to Belgium from Sharjah as indicated in the certificates of origin issued by the SCCI amounted to AED 12,415,000 during 2016 and remain in constant growth today. Al Hajri added that more than 30 Belgian firms currently operate in various sectors in Sharjah and are registered with Sharjah Chamber.
For his part, Qaisar Hijazi, Secretary General of the Arab-Belgium- Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, said: “the volume of trade exchange between Belgium and the UAE has reached €6bn, as trade flow with the UAE represent around 30% of the volume of trade between Belgium and the Arab countries. This reinforces the significance of this meeting in attracting investment from both sides.”
Mariam Rashid bin Al Shaikh, Investment Promotion Executive of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), gave a presentation to the Belgian delegates on the most significant investment areas in Sharjah. She stressed on the Authority’s devotion to encouraging new foreign investors to launch their businesses in Sharjah which is regarded as the booming business hub of the Middle East region. Sharjah realized this top position by virtue of its adoption of free trade principles, providing skilful labour force and legislative incentives, all within a comprehensive framework which seeks to establish sustainable growth.