ABU DHABI // As part of efforts to boost foreign investment and trade, the UAE has launched a website that is designed to make it easier for companies in the world's largest economy - the US - to come here. The UAE's trade office in the US launched its site, uaetrade-usa.org, recently to better familiarise US companies with the UAE and facilitate contacts between them and companies here, said Saud al Nowais, the commercial attache at the UAE embassy in Washington and the head of the UAE Trade and Commercial Office.
"It's all about lowering barriers," Mr al Nowais said. The UAE is better known for its oil exports and investments abroad than as a destination for foreign trade and investment. But the nation is looking to foreign direct investment to accelerate its diversification away from oil and government-financed investments. Abu Dhabi recently said it aimed to boost foreign investment into the emirate by 9 per cent a year in order to increase its non-oil exports to 11 per cent of its economy by 2030.
The UAE ranks 33rd in the World Bank's survey on the ease of doing business, behind France and Macedonia. Investment into the UAE has also been hit by slumping property prices and concerns over how Dubai will manage debt of at least US$109 billion (Dh400.3bn), according to calculations by the IMF. With the outlook uncertain, imports into the UAE slumped by 22 per cent last year to $132bn. The need for greater transparency tops the list of requirements of foreign investors, and the new website is aimed squarely at giving it to them.
Mr al Nowais, a former research analyst at Abu Dhabi's Executive Affairs Authority, moved to Washington DC last year to launch the five-person trade office at the embassy. In addition to general information on UAE trade regulations and how to set up a business in the UAE, the site offers background information on key sectors for potential investors, from property and finance to tourism and transportation.
Perhaps most interesting, particularly for researchers who need comprehensive data on the UAE, are the website's statistics on trade between the US and the UAE. US exports have increased from $3.6bn in 2002 to more than $14.5bn in 2008, according to the site. Another highlight is an interactive map that allows users to pull up figures on the UAE's trade with each of the 50 US states. Topping the list is Washington, which exported $3.5bn worth of goods and services to the UAE in 2008, largely aviation equipment.
The northwestern state is host to much of the production by the giant aviation and defence company Boeing. In addition to its sales to the likes of Etihad Airways, Boeing also has formed partnerships with Honeywell and Masdar to develop a biofuel for jet aircraft using the desert plant pickleweed. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org