Canada looks for UAE in­vest­ment

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

Trade be­tween Canada and the UAE is un­der­de­vel­oped, but in­vestors in both coun­tries will ben­e­fit from bet­ter links. That's what del­e­gates to a busi­ness sem­i­nar at Dubai In­ter­na­tional Fi­nance or­gan­ised by the Cana­dian Em­bassy. Jayson My­ers, CEO of Cana­dian Man­u­fac­tur­ers and Ex­porters (CME), the coun­try's largest trade as­so­ci­a­tion, said many Cana­dian firms were sim­ply un­aware of the UAE's po­ten­tial.

"Dubai and the UAE have not had the pro­file in Canada that they should have," he said in an in­ter­view af­ter his pre­sen­ta­tion. "I think it's prob­a­bly not top of the mind for a num­ber of com­pa­nies that are look­ing for in­ter­na­tional ex­pan­sion to think of Dubai as a cen­tre for busi­ness or man­u­fac­tur­ing, or a cen­tre for dis­tri­bu­tion gen­er­ally."

He added that af­ter this, his first visit to the UAE, "I'm go­ing home with a greater ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the op­por­tu­ni­ties and it's im­por­tant to be able to com­mu­ni­cate that back to the busi­ness com­mu­nity in Canada."

At the same time, Cana­dian com­pa­nies tend to op­er­ate be­hind the scenes as sup­pli­ers for noted brands, with rel­a­tively few high-pro­file brands wav­ing the Cana­dian flag.

"We don't have the pro­file you'd ex­pect for the world's 11th largest econ­omy," My­ers said.

Bi­lat­eral trade be­tween the UAE and Canada was less that C$2 bil­lion in 2014, with C$1.8 bil­lion of that be­ing Cana­dian ex­ports to the UAE. My­ers said the trade fig­ures un­der­played the re­la­tion­ship. "It's not so much the ex­ports and the im­ports as the in­vest­ment and the pro­duc­tion," he said. "If I'm an auto parts maker and I'm look­ing at en­ter­ing the Middle East mar­ket ... I need to weigh whether its bet­ter to pro­duce in Canada and try to ex­port and dis­trib­ute through Dubai or maybe its bet­ter to man­u­fac­ture at least some of those parts here in Dubai and en­ter the mar­ket that way.

"For Cana­dian com­pa­nies what's ex­tremely im­por­tant is en­try into the Ira­nian mar­ket. I see a huge op­por­tu­nity - aero­space, med­i­cal sup­plies, ser­vices, en­gi­neer­ing com­pa­nies, auto.

"One of the Cana­dian strengths that is never on the radar screen but is a tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity is agri­cul­tural equip­ment. Be­fore the sanc­tions were im­posed there were an aw­ful lot of Cana­dian agri­cul­tural equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers that were sell­ing into the Ira­nian mar­ket, some of them ac­tu­ally pro­duc­ing in Iran." He added: "My mes­sage back to Cana­dian firms is not to look at the UAe in terms of bi­lat­eral trade op­por­tu­ni­ties or even re­gional op­por­tu­ni­ties but as a plat­form to do busi­ness glob­ally."

And he was keen to pro­mote the ad­van­tages of in­vest­ment in Canada, claim­ing a more sta­ble busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment than the US but with ac­cess to the US mar­ket. "The fact that Canada has one of the low­est debt-to-GDP ra­tios means that the fed­eral govern­ment and the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments in Canada have a lot of fis­cal room for in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture, and so next Tues­day in the fed­eral bud­get there'll be an an­nounce­ment of C$125 bil­lion of new in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture - city tran­sit and health care, schools and ma­jor trans­porta­tion projects. In the short term it's a ma­jor in­vest­ment op­por­tu­nity - many of them are in the form of pub­licpri­vate part­ner­ships."

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