by Rasha Abu Baker HONG KONG, 21st May, 2016 (WAM) — A high-profile UAE trade delegation, led by Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, has concluded a two-day visit to Hong Kong, where they participated in a major summit and held meetings with key figures in the Hong Kong financial sector. The visit was part of the government’s efforts to usher in a new era of economic and trade relations between the two sides.

On Wednesday, May 18th, the delegation participated in the Belt and Road Summit, organised by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, to bring countries on board its ‘One Belt, One Road’ trade strategy using China’s Belt and Road Initiative designed to enhance the orderly free-flow of economic factors and expand business cooperation between East and West.

During the event, the UAE Minister gave a keynote speech where he welcomed and encouraged more dialogue on bilateral development in a variety of different sectors.

On the sidelines of his participation, the UAE Minister held key meetings with senior officials from the Hong Kong and the Chinese sides, including John Tsang, Financial Secretary of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, HKSARG.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed ways of boosting cooperation, and Tsang said that the forum was a good opportunity to “Bring better activity between our part of the world and yours,” expressing his keenness in further developing cooperation to support the economic growth and development of both sides.

Speaking during the meeting, Al Mansouri said that he hopes that relations will focus on three areas for future cooperation: SMEs, Industries, and Innovation.

He said, “We are, and consider ourselves to be, one of the best positioned countries when it comes to the implementation of the Silk Road and Belt concept, simply because we have invested a lot in infrastructure; whether it’s in ports, airports, and road networks, aside from the railway system which is coming up in the GCC.

“What is more important is that the UAE also has a positive influence on the region through its positive economic growth, application of rules and regulations, the harmony created in the country, and its sphere of influence covering a wide range, with about two billion people connecting Asia, Africa and Europe,” he added.

The minister also met with Hedy Chu, Acting Director-General of Trade and Industry, HKSARG, who said that the UAE is one of the most important countries with which Hong Kong wants to strengthen ties. “We hope to have more reciprocal visits from both sides and create trade agreements,” she said.

During the trip, the delegation also visited the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park and Cyberport, where they were briefed by senior management on the latest technology and innovation efforts in Hong Kong.

The delegation was comprised of senior UAE economic representatives, including Juma Al Kait, Assistant Under-Secretary for Foreign Trade at the Ministry of Economy, Jamal Al Jarwan, Secretary-General of UAE International Investors Council, Saed Al Awadi, CEO of Dubai Export Development Corporation, Obaid Saeed Aldhaher, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Borouge, Sameh Al Qubaisi Country CEO & Managing Director Wholesale Banking North East Asia, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, and Naser Yousef, Deputy General Manager, Emirates National Bank.

Jamal Al Jarwan said, “The significance of the Belt and Road Summit is in how it will re-draw the trade map, especially between Asia and the world.

“The participation of the UAE International Investors Council in the summit and meetings with concerned officials was an excellent opportunity to explore investment opportunities and access best practices that could contribute to supporting the country’s economic development, which is the main objective for the establishment of the council,” he added.

The UAE is currently Hong Kong’s largest partner for the export, re-export, and import markets in the Middle East, and non-oil trade between both sides, including trade of free zones, surged from US$ 5.8 billion in 2011 to more than US$ 15.9 billion in 2015.