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Business Secretary beats the drum for UK business in the UAE

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Vince Cable embarks on his first government trip to the UAE to boost trade with the region and encourage more inward investment into the UK.

Business Secretary Vince Cable today (19 January 2014) embarks on his first trip as Business Secretary to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to boost trade with the region and encourage more inward investment into the UK.

The 2-day trip, to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, forms part of efforts to meet UK Trade and Investment’s (UKTI) target of increasing bilateral trade with the UAE in goods and services to £12 billion by 2015. Current trade and investment levels are on track to meet those targets, reaching £10 billion in 2012.

On the first day of his trip Vince Cable will encourage businesses in the UAE to invest in the UK by launching a new UKTI Gulf Investment team, sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The taskforce will be headed by accountants’ firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and will find 100 new investment opportunities which will lead to 15 concrete investment projects from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE by the end of March 2015.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

Growth remains our country’s top priority. Encouraging firms to export more to emerging economies has formed a key part of the government’s industrial strategy - helping us stay ahead of the competition in key sectors where we are global leaders.

UK exports of goods to the United Arab Emirates were up 11% until September last year, generating over £6 billion - a major success story for our commercial partnership.

The UAE’s long-term prospects remain strong and I am looking forward to meeting with businesses and key decision makers to take forward British interests in my first visit to the country.

The creation of the UKTI Gulf Investment Team follows the development of 2 British Business Centres in the UAE (Dubai, due to open this March, and Abu Dhabi, due to open this October). They will include business support hubs which will give advice, IT support and office space to businesses looking to set up in the UAE. This will help British companies who are looking to bid for some of the £1.2 billion of business up for grabs a competitive edge to win and deliver the site of the upcoming world fair ‘Expo 2020’ in Dubai.

Dr Cable will also meet Gloucestershire-based laundry business, Paragon, as they prepare to launch a new facility in Mussafah in Abu Dhabi, creating initially 120 jobs but rising to over 300 and with over £12m investment.

Paragon, which operates as NewGen in the UAE, will operate the facility, which will open in February on behalf of the local owner. NewGen already operates commercial laundries in Dubai and Qatar with other planned openings within the Middle East over the next 2 years. The company was helped to set up in Dubai by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and UKTI in 2009. It has been a real success story for the Cheltenham based business which has more than 100 years trading experience in the UK and is led by Joint Managing Directors, Robert and David Stevens.

Steve Connell, NewGen’s Business Development Director, said:

We pride ourselves on our commitment to ensuring our provision of trusted laundry services in the Middle East mirrors our success in the UK within the Paragon Family of Companies – delivering energy efficiency, cost-savings and unbeatable quality.

We’re developing interest from across the region, including Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Sri Lanka and Manila, so it’s a very exciting time for us to launch our latest laundry in this fast growing area.

In Dubai Dr Cable will also meet with some of the 170 UK businesses exhibiting at the international fire and security show Intersec and speak to His Highness Sheikh Ahmed, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, about High Value Opportunities for UK business in the aerospace sector.

In Abu Dhabi he will also attend the World Future Energy Summit where he will promote UK interests in oil and technologies, and take part in a global leaders panel discussion on ‘the business of clean energy’.

A survey of Middle Eastern perceptions of trading with the UK is being launched to coincide with the trip. It found key strengths include political stability, the banking and financial system, stable and effective regulation and the education system.

Business representatives from the Middle East also ranked the UK fourth best for investment and saw it as a key destination for accessing the rest of Europe, but high costs and taxes coupled with low growth were seen as particular barriers.

gov.uk

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