Sharjah 2016 | ECONOMY | COLUMN

TBY talks to Abdelaziz Shattaf, Director of Sharjah Exports Development Center, on the sector.

Abdelaziz Shattaf

What export trends have you seen since the Sharjah Exports Development Center opened?

Exports increased by 7-8% between 2014 and 2015. In the first quarter of 2016, lubricants were the highest export category, followed by mechanical parts. The third-largest export category was food and beverage.

Is there a particular region where the center would like to focus its export efforts?

Currently, most of Sharjah's exports go to GCC countries. One reason for this is our geographical location. Saudi Arabia is our biggest importer, but we can see there is potential in Africa for our exports. The African countries we are focusing on are Uganda, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. We started our trade mission to these countries in 2015 and are continuing our efforts in 2016. We have already signed valuable contracts as a result of our last trade mission. During these visits, we also have meetings with top-level government officials to discuss how their governments can help facilitate services for exporters from the UAE. Africa is the market of the future. African countries are rapidly developing and adapting their laws to encourage trade; therefore, now is the time to export there.