Spanish business flavour in UAE in growth mode
gulfnews -

Abu Dhabi

Trade and economic ties between Spain and UAE are set to increase as many Spanish firms plan to enter the market, a diplomat and business executives said.

Bilateral trade stood at 2 billion euros in 2017 and is expected to go up as more Spanish companies look to export products to the UAE, Spanish ambassador to the UAE Antonio Alvarez Barthe said. “Last year more than 7,600 Spanish companies exported to the UAE with more than 2,500 being regular exporters. We see exports growing in the coming years.”

The ambassador said that about 200 Spanish companies are currently based in the UAE and there are also investments from the UAE side into Spain. “In oil and gas and other industrial sectors, some of the big Spanish companies are here. In renewable energy, Spain can be proud of having some of the leading companies in this sector in the world and they are coming here in some huge projects.”

He added UAE investments are growing in Spain and gave the example of Mubadala Investment owning 100 per cent of energy company Cepsa, which recently announced plans to float its shares on the Spanish stock exchange this year, in what is expected to be one of the largest listings in Spain for over a decade.

Guillermo Cobelo, Chairman of Spanish Business Council in the UAE, said economic ties between the countries are growing. “There are five flights between the two countries daily compared to two flights a week five years ago. This gives the flavour about the increasing relationship.”

He expects more Spanish investment to flow into the country as the government takes measures to remove barriers to investments by bringing in new regulations. “They are eliminating barriers of entrance and building the door of accessibility for newcomers to invest and succeed,” Cobelo said.

Earlier this year, the UAE cabinet approved steps that would allow for 100 per cent ownership of UAE-based businesses by foreign investors. The new measures are expected to come into effect by year end.

Cobelo said plans are underway to open the Middle East’s first Spanish chamber of commerce in the UAE. Spain has similar offices in other regions.

Provacuno, Spain’s largest agro-food inter-professional Association that represents 85 per cent of the beef sector in the country, is to introduce Spanish beef in the UAE.

“This is an important market because of the volume of the beef they are importing,” said Jose Ramon Godoy, International Director of Provacuno. The production of beef in Spain is 700,000 tonnes per year and 200,000 is exported, mostly to the European Union.

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