ABU DHABI, 7th November, 2016 (WAM) — The Ministry of Economy signed on Monday a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, HKTDC, to promote trade, investment, innovation and enhancement of business environment.

The deal was signed by Abdullah Al Saleh, Under-Secretary of the Ministry for Trade Affairs and Industry, and Margaret Fong, Executive Director of HKTDC.

The signing ceremony was attended by Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, and The Hon John Tsang, Financial Secretary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Al Mansouri and Tsang also held a meeting to discuss the economic ties between the two parties.

They also agreed to boost bilateral trade and enhance co-operation to seize opportunities under the Belt and Road Initiative across various sectors, including finance, logistics and maritime transport, professional services, cross-border investment, infrastructure development and international trade.

The MoU will also promote trade, investment, entrepreneurship, and small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as co-operation between Hong Kong and the UAE. Under the deal, the two countries will foster closer co-operation and encourage the UAE companies to participate in related activities.

Al Mansouri stressed the strength of trade and economic ties between the UAE and Hong Kong on one hand, and the UAE and China on the other hand. He said both sides share many factors to strengthen partnerships in a number of sectors of common interest.

He added that given the status enjoyed by the UAE and Hong Kong as international financial and business hubs, there are promising opportunities to build stronger mutual partnerships and trade links.

The UAE minister noted that the next stage needs a clear and specific plan for co-operation in priority sectors.

Al Mansouri said that the state puts innovation as a key focus regarding its development policies, and works to develop its contribution in a number of targeted sectors. There are opportunities to develop partnerships with Hong Kong in a number of sectors, which constitute a priority for both sides, most notably, water, renewable energy and transport sectors, he added.

The UAE minister said that the country’s airports received more than 140 million passengers last year, a figure that reflects annual growth and requires more investments to ensure smooth continuity of service excellence.

Tsang said Hong Kong looks forward to the UAE as a trading gateway to penetrate the Middle East market. Similarly, Hong Kong is an ideal gateway to Chinese and Southeast Asian markets, he added.

The UAE is the largest trading partner of Hong Kong in the Middle East and the trade relations between the two sides are growing consistently, Tsang said. “Besides trade and logistics, there are real opportunities for co-operation in the areas of innovation and scientific research. The parties will seek to achieve the desired progress,” he added.

Tsang also noted that the service sector is growing on both sides and contributes more than 90 per cent to the GDP of Hong Kong, making it eligible to play a key role in the New Silk Road initiative and specifically on investment and infrastructure projects as well as funding.

He said that both the UAE and Hong Kong have what it takes to be the two major centres for business and logistics. Tsang also referred to Hong Kong’s interest in the Islamic finance, specifically the Islamic sukuks, expressing his hope to strengthen co-operation frameworks with the UAE in this regard.