The UAE has come a long way from its origins as a pearlingindustry centre in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In just over fourdecades, our nation has taken a giant leap forward to become what it is today:an entrepreneurial success story with world-class infrastructure.
Within the big picture of this success story, Abu Dhabi hasbecome the bedrock for industrialisation and trade, not only in the UAE, butacross the region. If we zoom in even farther, within the emirate, our progressin the trade and maritime ports sectors – Khalifa Port has now establisheditself as the world’s second-fastest growing container port – as well asKhalifa Industrial Zone and the recently launched Khalifa Port Free Trade Zone,that collectively stand as living testimony to this.
In this context, few projects have attracted more attention orexpectation from the trade industry than the proposed Belt and Road Initiative– also known as One Belt, One Road – launched four years ago by the Chinesepresident Xi Jinping. The scale of its infrastructure programme is a feast initself. According to McKinsey, it could potentially cover 65 per cent of theworld’s population, one-third of global GDP and a quarter of all the goods andservices in the international economy.
The ambition of this initiative, going from the physical road(“the Belt”) to its 21st-century maritime and shipping leg (“the Road”), goesfar beyond creating huge physical connections between East and West. AsMckinsey also says: “It aims to create the world’s largest platform foreconomic cooperation, including, trade and financing collaboration, and socialand cultural cooperation”.
Coming on the heels of the Belt and Road Forum for InternationalCooperation, hosted by the Chinese government in May, there is new momentum asthe Belt and Road enters a more detailed development and delivery stage. Thismomentum will benefit the already strong bilateral relationships between theUAE and China.
China is the UAE’s second largest trading partner. As part ofBeijing’s drive to forge closer commercial and political ties with the MiddleEast, our countries established last year a US$10 billion joint investmentfund, the UAE-China Joint Investment Fund, managed by Mubadala Capital’ssovereign investment partnership team.
Last September, China’s Cosco Shipping Ports announced theestablishment of a dedicated container terminal at Khalifa Port.
The new terminal, currently under construction, will enhance theUAE and Abu Dhabi’s role as a key logistics and trading hub and will also serveto further diversify the UAE’s dynamic and growing economy.
The terminal is expected to almost double Khalifa Port’scapacity in container transportation by adding 2.4 million TEU a year toKhalifa Port’s existing capacity of 2.5 million.
As good news never comes alone, under the umbrella of theUAE-China Trade Fund, the emirate of Abu Dhabi, through Abu Dhabi Ports, andJiangsu Province will mark another major milestone that will be announced soon,deepening trade links between the two countries and rapidly accelerating thepotential of maritime trade as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Located just north-west of Shangai, the Jiangsu province’shistory and development has been closely linked to silk production. Since thetimes of the Silk Road, Jiangsu Province has been a commercial, political andcultural centre. Today, it is one of the wealthiest provinces in China with aGDP comparable to that of Switzerland, and is a hub for electronic equipment,chemicals and textiles.
Beyond any short-term commercial opportunities, the UAE’s andChina’s long-tem economic agendas have common touch points. China is becoming aleader in renewable energy, while the UAE is actively diversifying its economyto prepare for the post-oil era.
Moving forward, the ambition is to focus less on fossil fuel andmore on manufactured imports and high-tech joint ventures in sectors likefinancial services, real estate and renewable energy.
Both our countries have been blessed with a strong foundationfor success. Although our stories differ, it is the same vision and dynamism,the same ambition to overcome obstacles, which brings us together.
Our ambition is to become a linchpin of the Belt and RoadInitiative. From our side, Khalifa Port, Khalifa Port Free Trade Zone and Kizadare ready to take centre stage, creating access to new markets, bringinginnovation and new products and services for the UAE, and delivering on thepotential of our shipping, industrial and logistics industry.
Source: The National/Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi