Business Secretary Vince Cable today embarks on his first trip as Business Secretary to the Intersec 2014 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to boost trade with the region and encourage more inward investment into the UK.
The two-day trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi forms part of efforts to meet UK Trade and Investment’s (UKTI) target of increasing bilateral trade with the UAE in goods and services to £12bn by 2015. Current trade and investment levels are on track to meet those targets, reaching £10 billion in 2012.
In Dubai, Dr Cable will also meet some of the 170 UK businesses exhibiting at the international fire and security show, Intersec, including Zaun, the Wolverhampton based manufacturer of perimeter security systems.
Dr Cable will also speak to His Highness Sheikh Ahmed, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, about high-value opportunities for UK business in the aerospace sector.
On the first day of his trip, Dr Cable will encourage businesses in the UAE to invest in the UK by launching a new UKTI Gulf Investment Team, sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The task force will be headed by accountants’ firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and will find 100 new investment opportunities, which will lead to 15 concrete investment projects from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE by the end of March 2015.
Dr Cable said: “Growth remains our country’s top priority. Encouraging firms to export more to emerging economies has formed a key part of the government’s industrial strategy – helping us stay ahead of the competition in key sectors where we are global leaders.
“UK exports of goods to the UAE were up 11 per cent until September last year, generating over £6 billion – a major success story for our commercial partnership.
“The UAE’s long-term prospects remain strong, and I am looking forward to meeting businesses and key decision-makers to take forward British interests in my first visit to the country.”
The creation of the UKTI Gulf Investment Team follows the development of two British Business Centres in the UAE (Dubai, due to open this March; and Abu Dhabi, due to open this October). They will include business support hubs that will give advice, IT support and office space to businesses looking to set up in the UAE. This will help British companies looking to bid for some of the £1.2 billion of business up for grabs a competitive edge to win and deliver the site of the upcoming world fair ‘Expo 2020’ in Dubai.
Zaun co-founder and director Alastair Henman said: “After only our second visit to Intersec in 2012, we opened an office in the Emirates Towers in the heart of the Dubai business district after unprecedented interest in our products from the Middle East construction industry.
“Since then, we have supplied our premium British-made products to Dubai, the UAE, Oman and Kuwait with the help of UKTI, who have used us as a British trailblazer on trade delegations overseas since our work on securing the London 2012 Olympics.
“UKTI has helped us set up overseas opportunities, helped us liaise with foreign embassies and provided the platform for Zaun to talk to governments, event organisers, security services and customers across the globe.
“We have presented and exhibited as part of UKTI delegations at the LAAD Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; SportAccord in St Petersburg, Russia; and numerous Middle Eastern conferences to drum up more business and bang the British drum.
“Throughout, our UKTI international trade advisor Terence Madkins has been a constant support to Zaun, giving key advice through his experience of dealing with overseas markets. This, along with the Omis reports and Passport to Export and Gateway to Global Growth programmes, gives us huge confidence of expanding our exports in the Middle East and beyond.“
In Abu Dhabi, Dr Cable will also attend the World Future Energy Summit, where he will promote UK interests in oil and technologies and participate in a global leaders panel discussion on ‘the business of clean energy.
A survey of Middle Eastern perceptions of trading with the UK is being launched to coincide with the trip. It found key strengths include political stability, the banking and financial system, stable and effective regulation and the education system.
Business representatives from the Middle East also ranked the UK fourth best for investment and saw it as a key destination for accessing Europe. Still, high costs and taxes coupled with low growth were seen as particular barriers.