The Sharjah FDI Office, Invest in Sharjah, in collaboration with the Chinese Business Council, organised the Sharjah–China “Belt & Road” Business Round Table at the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which concluded on Thursday April 18th 2019.
The Chinese delegation of 140 businesspersons was led by Lei JIN, Economic and Commercial Counsellor of the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China, and Shaoguo HAN, Vice President, CNPC International, on behalf of the Chinese Business Council.
Among other important attendees were senior representatives from Sharjah’s government entities, including Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority, Shurooq; Waleed Abdel Rahman BuKhatir, Second Vice Chairman of the Sharjah Chamber and Commerce Industry, and Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO of Invest in Sharjah, the entity responsible for intensifying Sharjah Government’s efforts to promote the emirate’s business and investment opportunities in key international markets.
The purpose of the roundtable was to outline new partnerships and investment opportunities for Chinese businesses, facilitated by the Sharjah’s government and private sector entities, as well as the emirate’s economic free zones, which can provide existing and new investors from China direct access into local markets through Sharjah, and then grow their regional and global operations.
It comes on the heels of the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, to boost investment and trade between the two countries, which coincided with the visit last July of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Lei JIN said, “In recent years, Chinese companies and organisations have become increasingly active in the UAE market, as in Sharjah, and we are happy to see 735 Chinese companies registered in this emirate by June 2018. Besides traditional trade, there are more and more of them taking part in UAE’s large projects and cooperating with government entities and major enterprises on a deeper level.”
Speaking at the roundtable, Al Sarkal said, “Our aim to help Chinese investors grow their businesses, boost efforts for the realisation of the Belt and Road Initiative, and establish long-term, sustainable and mutually-beneficial bilateral partnerships.”
Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO of Invest in Sharjah, said, “Sharjah has so much to offer to Chinese investors. Its unique geographic location and advanced infrastructure makes it an ideal place for operating businesses in the UAE, and a strategic important hub to expand to neighbouring markets.”
During the event, Invest in Sharjah launched its official WeChat account, the most used social media platform in China in order to open direct communication channels between investors in both countries. Through the social media channel, Invest in Sharjah will be sharing with investors invaluable information relating to investment opportunities, beneficial to investment seekers in both countries.
A panel discussion titled ‘Investment Opportunities in Sharjah’, highlighted business opportunities within Sharjah’s diversified sectors that are most promising to be pursued as part of the Sharjah-China partnership. It also shed light on the qualities, which have enabled Sharjah’s economy to continuously attract quality foreign investments, which continue to grow.
Sharjah has been collaborating with China over trade, culture and tourism over several years. As of June 2018, 735 Chinese companies were registered in the emirate. These numbers continue to grow due to Sharjah governments pro-investor policies and strategic budget allocations, For instance, out of the approved 2019 budget Sharjah, 26 percent has been dedicated to the development and improvement of its infrastructure, and 41 percent has been committed towards the economic development sector – two significant sectors as far as the BRI is concerned.
An estimated 200,000 Chinese currently reside in the UAE with more than 4,000 Chinese companies operating in the country in several sectors such as trade, construction, telecommunication, and food and beverage.
Thirty percent of China’s exports to the Arab world already go through UAE, so needless to say that the country poised to play a major role in BRI. Looking at the future, it is expected that with the diversification of UAE’s and Sharjah’s economy, opportunities for Chinese investors will continue to grow.