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Inaugural UAE-Singapore Business & Investment Forum promotes new era of partnership and business opportunities

  • Organised in conjunction with the visit of H.E. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and a high-level government and business delegation

8 February 2018 [Singapore] - Singapore companies will now be better placed to tap into potential business opportunities as Singapore and the UAE inaugurate a new era of partnership.

Organised by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) in collaboration with International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, the UAE Ministry of Economy and the Embassy of the UAE in Singapore, the inaugural UAE-Singapore Business & Investment Forum marked the largest UAE-centric event in the Federation’s 15-year history.

The Forum was held in conjunction with the visit of H.E. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy (UAE) and a 71-strong high-level government and business delegation, comprising senior government officials from the Ministry of Economy and Khalifa Fund, as well as key representatives of leading UAE companies such as AlOtaiba Enterprises and Essa Al-Ghurair Investment. 

Senior Minister of State for Trade & Industry Dr Koh Poh Koon delivered the keynote address as Guest-of-Honour.

Some 200 participants gained insights into the UAE investment environment and available projects, which would provide opportunities for third country collaborations with the Gulf state. 

The Forum discussed opportunities targeted at start-ups and SMEs arising from the AED 2 billion (approx. S$718.6 million) Khalifa Fund’s mandate to develop the SME sector and encourage entrepreneurship as part of economic diversification.

With the UAE’s success in pioneering a growing Islamic economy ecosystem, which has gained a leadership position in recent years, the Forum examined developments on the technology and innovation front and on accessing this niche economic system.

The UAE Singapore Business Council, a private sector-led initiative supported by the Embassy of the UAE in Singapore, was also formally introduced at the Forum. The Council serves as a platform to bring together UAE and Singapore companies to further facilitate greater commercial activities between the two countries.

In his keynote address, H.E. Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy, The United Arab Emirates said: “In 2015, our Asian non-oil trade alone stood at USD 122.5 billion (AED 450 billion)[1], and with our economic diversification strategy in full swing we would like to strengthen our cooperation with Singapore. We would also like to pursue partnerships in key areas such as small- and medium-sized enterprises, innovation, research and development, manufacturing, investment, food security, civil aviation, tourism, education, and health. These sectors are prioritized under our National Innovation Strategy and our UAE Vision 2021 development plan which aims to establish us as one of the best countries in the world through diversification, innovation, knowledge exchange, and entrepreneurship.”

H.E. Shamsher Zaman, Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Chairman, SBF’s Middle East Business Group (MEBG) said: “Both Singapore and UAE are thriving hubs for our respective regions. The GCC - Singapore Free Trade Agreement in place has not only benefited Singapore companies looking to expand their business to UAE and the GCC region. UAE companies have also been able to increase the export of their goods and services to Singapore and the rest of the neighbouring ASEAN countries, given Singapore’s standing as a hub for doing business in the region. Rising internationalization of UAE’s goods and services into overseas markets is an area that Singapore can partner UAE in, and is a strong catalyst to grow our bilateral trade further.”

Mr. G. Jayakrishnan, Group Director, Middle East and Africa Group, International Enterprise Singapore said: “Singapore and the UAE enjoy growing business, trade and investment links. There are over 400 Singapore companies in the UAE across oil and gas, digital services, food, trade and distribution, utilities and infrastructure sectors. As the gateway to the Middle East region, UAE presents strong potential for Singapore companies. As the region continues to grow, IE Singapore will work closely with Singapore companies to capture growth opportunities in UAE and the region.”

The UAE is Singapore’s top trading partner in the GCC and 15th largest trading partner in the world. In 2017, bilateral trade amounted to S$17.2 billion[2].

The UAE economy has seen sustained growth, maintaining its position as the second largest economy in the Arab world and one of the most important regional destinations for trade, investment and economic activities.

Its GDP amounted to US$348.7 billion[3] in 2016, and economic growth momentum is expected to pick up with investments ramping up ahead of Dubai’s Expo 2020 and a vibrant non-oil sector, whilst the country remains on track to establish a diverse knowledge and innovation driven economy.


Keynote Address by SMS Koh Poh Koon


1 Reuters
2 Statlink
3 World Bank

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