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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Ajman Free Zone targets Indian businesses

The free zone has conducted a roadshow in Chennai, New Delhi and Mumbai, with the aim of promoting its offerings to entrepreneurs and companies to set up there.

Mumbai// Ajman Free Zone is stepping up its efforts to attract Indian businesses and compete with other business parks in the UAE.

Over the past few days the free zone has conducted a roadshow in Chennai, New Delhi and Mumbai, with the aim of promoting its offerings to entrepreneurs and companies to set up there. On this trip, its executives were also pushing a new strategy of encouraging professionals and agents in India to promote the free zone and win business for it.

India is an important market for free zones in the UAE, given the growing trade and economic relations between the two countries and the large Indian diaspora. The UAE and India have plans to increase the value of bilateral trade by 60 per cent, to $100 billion, by 2020.

“We’re always doing roadshows like this and inviting investors and trying to show them what we have, but this time it’s a little bit different,” said Mahmood Al Hashemi, the general manager of Ajman Free Zone. “This time, we invited lawyers, chartered accountants, and companies that can support more and more to bringing business. Indian people, whenever they are growing internationally, they need someone entrusted from here [in India] to give them a solution where to go.”

Indian entities account for more businesses in Ajman Free Zone than those of any other country. Forty per cent of its companies are under Indian ownership. In In total it has some 17,000 companies registered. It says its set-up costs, which start at US$3,300, offer an affordable option for entrepreneurs.

Ajman Free Zone opened an office in New Delhi three years ago and a second office in Mumbai this year to add to its efforts to tap the Indian market. But given the vast size of the country, Mr Al Hashemi explained that it needed to develop a wider network to reach more potential clients.

The Indian National Bar Association collaborated on the roadshow to facilitate a connection between the free zone and professionals. Atul Batra, the chair, litigation, at the association said that there were “good levels of interest” from professionals. Lawyers would be able to benefit by charging fees to clients for paperwork, but they would not be able to receive commission because this “would go against their licence to practice”. Agents would receive commission from Ajman Free Zone. The free zone is focusing on attracting small and medium-sized enterprises. Companies come from a range of sectors, with trade one of the major areas along with industry, logistics and services.

A large portion of the global economy is based on SMEs, Mr Al Hashemi said. “Especially in India, they want to go internationally but maybe they didn’t hear about us.”

He said that a focus on entrepreneurs and smaller businesses helped it to differentiate it from the free zones of Jebel Ali and Kizad in Abu Dhabi. There are almost 40 free zones in the UAE which offer 100 per cent foreign ownership, tax benefits and support services. “We are [the UAE] the third largest trading partner in India and that’s why we believe that there are a lot of opportunities to work more and more with Indian partners,” said Mr Al Hashemi.

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