x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Italians here to do business

About 300 Italian business representatives will arrive in the UAE tomorrow to broaden relationships in the energy, construction and retail industries.

About 300 Italian business representatives will arrive in the UAE tomorrow in the hope of winning new contracts for Italian companies in the energy, construction and retail industries.

The Italian delegation is seeking to build on a trade relationship that is already worth more than US$4.5 billion (Dh16.52bn) a year by promoting new opportunities in clean technology and the agriculture and food sectors.

The new areas would broaden a trade that focuses on cars, fashion, construction and defence, and is composed mainly of imports to the UAE of products from Italy's best-known manufacturers - Ferrari, Armani, Impragilo and Finmeccanica among them.

Italian officials also say they want to link commerce with culture and promote their country's status as a "cultural superpower".

"This is about the possibility of partnerships between a country synonymous with top quality and a market that is synonymous with consumers requiring quality and top goods," said Giorgio Starace, the newly installed Italian Ambassador to the UAE.

Mr Starace, who assumed the post on September 30, said the businesses coming this week represented one of largest Italian delegations ever sent to the UAE.

The delegation is being headed by Italian officials such as Paolo Romani, the minister of economic development, who will be joined by the leaders of several trade organisations.

Members are scheduled to meet Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and UAE ministers for energy and the economy. In Abu Dhabi, the group will meet officials at Masdar, the Government's clean energy company, and state-backed investment funds including the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Mubadala Development - a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government - and Aabar Investments.

Italian defence companies have a decades-old relationship with the UAE and recently closed two new deals.

In July, Alenia Aermacchi, a unit of Finmeccanica, signed contracts to provide the UAE Air Force with 10 MB-339A aircraft configured for aerobatic displays, the upgrade of six aircraft already in the UAE fleet, and the sale of four other planes.

Last month, Fincantieri announced it would set up a joint venture in the UAE called Etihad Ship Building with the Middle East unit of Oto Melara, and Al Fattan Ship Industry. Fincantieri had previously signed deals to build patrol vessels for the UAE.

Other new opportunities for Italian companies are likely to be in the food and beverage industries, including the export of more pasta, sauces and cheese into the UAE, and in clean technology with companies such as Enel Green Energy hoping to make an impact, Mr Starace said.