Sharjah 2016 | DIPLOMACY | FORUM

Countries in all corners of the world are looking toward Sharjah and the UAE more broadly for leadership and partnership.

Don Pramudwinai
Minister of Foreign Affairs

Relations with the UAE and the Middle Eastern region as a whole are important to us. As Thailand and the UAE are key trading partners, the year ahead should see closer cooperation and interaction between our two countries and people. While each of us can act as hubs and gateways for our respective regions to encourage more trade and investment, we must also strengthen cooperation in other important areas including energy and tourism. In 2016, Thailand has set out to play a leading and constructive role in the global arena, particularly among developing countries. As chair of the G-77, we aim to reinforce South-South cooperation especially in moving toward the realization of Sustainable Development Goals in the longer term. We are also laying down a 20-year strategy for the country. Our goal is for the country to achieve stability, prosperity and sustainability. The priorities of the current Thai government are to enhance the country's strength in various ways, including increasing Thailand's competitiveness. The government has designated high priority clusters with potential for development with incentives for investment. We also prioritize supporting startups and SMEs, providing funds for investment at local levels, and enhancing ease of doing business by improving laws and regulations. At the same time, we aim to increasingly contribute to the security and development of the international community.

Jam Kamal Khan
Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Resources

We have yet to fulfill the potential that exists between the UAE and Pakistan. There is a large demographic of Pakistanis working in the UAE and throughout the region; however, we need to strengthen our trade relationship with the UAE. Pakistan's exports are not high; our total annual exports are barely USD23 billion, and most of that goes to the US and Europe, with 70% being textiles and garment-related products. Therefore, there are opportunities to expand our trade in the Gulf where Pakistani manufacturing companies can establish a presence. During my visit to the UAE, we discussed how production levels have been affecting the world. There is an issue with oversupply in the market, which is depressing prices. At the same time, there are a few areas that are buying more oil, such as China. It had been buying 1.3 million bpd in 2015; however, it has exceeded that and hit about 1.5 million bdp. We recently heard from ARAMCO that it is currently going through the thought process of how the market should control the prices rather than OPEC itself. I am of the view that we may be seeing more production. Iran is back on the market and there is also Kazakhstan, which now has oil producing reserves for 2016 that had not been in play in previous years.

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Olli Rehn
Minister of Economic Affairs

The UAE has made substantial progress over the last few years in innovation and education, and you can see the results already in terms of the UAE being ranked 14th on the competitiveness index of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Finland has a strong educational system that has developed over the last two centuries, and we have exported our competence and experience to other countries, including the UAE. We are keen to keep expanding this education export activity. We have great experience in combining business and research opportunities, which is something that could be interesting for the UAE. The UAE is dynamic and business oriented; therefore, it is important for a country like the UAE to be able to commercialize innovation processes and develop them into commercial products. This requires a strong interface between universities, research institutes, businesses and enterprises, which is certainly one area where we can collaborate in a mutually beneficial way. We can have mutually beneficial cooperation in R&D, since Finland has significant experience in developing innovative research, especially in sectors such as ICT, biotech, and clean tech. I know that the UAE is expanding its own university and research programs greatly in line with its own R&D goals; therefore, we can provide plenty of concrete cooperation opportunities between our two countries research centers and institutions.

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