DUBAI // The head of one of Canada’s most economically powerful provinces has called on the federal government to resolve a disagreement with the UAE over landing rights for its airlines.
The Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty said that the dispute between the two countries could jeopardise future business relationships.
“The UAE is kind of like the financial nerve centre for the Middle East,” he told Canadian media on Wednesday. “It would be the Chinese equivalent of Shanghai. We need to have a good trading relationship, we need to be on friendly terms with that part of the world.
“We’re seen in a different light, and a light we would prefer not to be seen in, in the UAE at present.”
Ontario is one of the leading exporters to the UAE in terms of airline landing equipment as well as healthcare, said Shane Philips, executive board member of the Canadian Business Council.
“There’s a really significant amount of trade between Ontario and the UAE,” he said, adding that the province ranks the UAE as the 17th biggest export market.
It has been reported previously that goods exports from Ontario to the UAE were valued at more than Dh1 billion in 2007, compared to Dh62 million from the UAE to the province.
The minister of economic development for the province, Sandra Pupatello, is in the Emirates leading a trade delegation of health care companies, who are bidding for key contracts.
She said that relations between the two countries were in a “cooling-off period” and hoped that a middle ground would be found.
Mr Philips said on the whole the dispute, which began when Etihad and Emirates were denied daily landing rights, had not affected individual businesses.
“What I’ve seen on the street is that these issues are mostly on a federal level, while businesses are continuing to thrive,” he said. “Although it’s harder now to bring Canadians out here, it’s not having a huge impact.”
Mr McGuinty was unable to put a figure on any potential loss of business as a result of the row.
“It’s not about what we’ve lost,” he said. “It’s about the future.”