TRADING UP

UAE 2018 | DUBAI | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Hamad Buamim, President & CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry, on boosting trade with Latin America, digitizing government services, and capitalizing on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Hamad Buamim
BIOGRAPHY
Holding his current position since 2006, Hamad Buamim is the President and CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry. He is also the Deputy Chair of the Paris-based World Chambers Federation – International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). Buamim serves as a Board Member of the UAE Central Bank, Dubai International Financial Centre Authority, and Dubai World, and also acts as Chairman of National General Insurance, and Hawkamah, the Institute of Corporate Governance. Previously, Buamim served as Chairman of Emirates Financial Services, and Emirates NBD Capital, as well as a Board Member of Emirates NBD and Network International. Educated in the US, Buamim holds an MBA with honors in finance from the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He also obtained a bachelor of science Magna Cum Laude in electrical engineering from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

How is the chamber implementing smooth and accurate administrative procedures to enable PPP legislation?

We recently unveiled key objectives and initiatives in our 2017-2021 strategy, which is centered on creating a favorable business environment and improving the ease of doing business within the Emirate. It is a customer-oriented strategy that aims to boost competitiveness and growth within the private sector in line with the Dubai Plan 2021. The strategy is supported by four pillars, which include promoting Dubai as a global business hub, creating a favorable business environment, supporting the development of business in Dubai, and becoming the best chamber in the world. When we consider the ambitious targets of the Dubai Plan 2021 and UAE Vision 2021, it is clear that PPPs are the fastest way to boost competitiveness.

What efforts are there within government entities to adopt smart technologies and innovate internally?

The UAE has emerged as a global standard-bearer for e-government in recent years. The government was ranked the most tech-savvy in the region. The UAE's National Innovation Strategy will continue to help the country realize its ambition of becoming one of the most innovative nations in the world. The initiative requires all government entities to reduce spending and dedicate savings to research and innovation projects. More than 2,000 government services are mandated to be made available through mobile and electronic mediums, and the majority have already made that transition. The UAE has set a target for 80% of government services to be accessible through mobile devices by 2018.

There have been several recent efforts to develop trade with Latin American nations. What role can the UAE play in developing this?

Dubai's total non-oil trade with Latin America amounted to AED17.41 billion (USD4.7 billion) in 2016, a 29% increase on 2010. Yet when we look at the vast resources that both sides offer, you see the huge potential to expand the volume and scope of bilateral trade. Latin American countries are among the world's top agricultural exporters and stand to benefit from collaborating with Dubai on food security. The expansion of direct flights between Dubai and Latin America has opened the door to new opportunities for economic cooperation. Several Latin American governments have unveiled large-scale infrastructure investment plans to enhance roads, railways, ports, and airports across the region, which are all areas where UAE businesses can provide their expertise and investment.

Along with China, the UAE is one of the largest sources of FDI in Pakistan. What impact will the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) have on freight volumes and transshipment?

We expect this initiative to be a game-changer for global trade, mobility, and connectivity. Given our strong trade relations with Pakistan and China, CPEC should positively impact the Emirate's trade with these countries, removing barriers and reducing transportation costs. CPEC is closely related to China's One Belt One Road Initiative, which seeks to link China to the Middle East through Central Asia. The UAE stands to play a critical role as an investment and trade hub along the New Silk Road with strategic access to the rest of the Middle East region, as well as emerging markets across Africa and South Asia. This corridor is also good news for GCC countries, as they will be able to transfer oil and gas to China through a 3,000-km land route rather than a 12,000-km sea journey. The UAE, in particular, is well-placed to benefit from this initiative, by helping China meet its energy needs, while enhanced connectivity is expected to strengthen trade relations between the countries. Dubai Chamber has made China a key focus of its expansion strategy by recently opening a representative office in Shanghai to explore the trade and investment opportunities in China that offer the most potential for its members.