Businesses in the UAE have the greatest international focus of those in any country in HSBC's five regions, according to a survey by the bank. It said 91 per cent of respondents from the Emirates reported they had operations abroad, topping the bank's global average of 76 per cent. "That's the highest of any country," said Simon Johnson, the head of commercial banking in the MENA region.
HSBC queried 3,600 medium-size companies around the world, many of which are bank customers, last April and May, he said. About 300 of those companies are based in the UAE. The UAE's high international ranking makes sense, Mr Johnson said, considering the region's business ties both east and west. "The UAE certainly continues to be a major trade house for the region." And 95 per cent of the companies said international revenue had grown in the past year, while nearly two thirds expected to expand their overseas operations in the next two years.
The bank also said yesterday that US$75 million (Dh275.2m) of a $100m fund it launched in January had been allocated, with 31 per cent of the funds dedicated to UAE companies. The fund is for small to medium-sizecompanies involved in international business and comes as they find it difficult to secure funding. Such businesses provide about 85 per cent of all employment in the country and represent 46 per cent of GDP, according to recent estimates.
The HSBC fund complements other programmes aimed at boosting that sector. One is the Dh1 billion Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development sponsored by the Abu Dhabi Government, which has disbursed Dh391m in financing since its inception three years ago. "The government, along with HSBC, wants to put money where our mouth is basically in supporting this very important sector," Mr Johnson said. Many of those businesses are likely to want to trade with their counterparts in India, the survey says.
India is identified as the top international market for UAE companies, HSBC reported, with 28 per cent targeting the country for opportunities. Saudi Arabia and China were chosen by 24 per cent and 22 per cent of the respondents, respectively. India has the largest presence among foreign companies registered with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, according to the country's consulate in Dubai.