By Muhammad Aamir
ABU DHABI, 27th May, 2022 (WAM) — With US$16.7 billion worth of exports last year, the US-UAE Business Council is poised to further enhance ties between the United States and the UAE in healthcare, energy sustainability, space, advanced manufacturing, and the digital economy.
“There is tremendous potential for the further growth of the bilateral relationship,” Danny Sebright, the Council president, told the Emirates News Agency (WAM) in an interview. The economic relationship is now marked by over US$22 billion in bilateral trade as well as large flows of foreign direct investment in both directions, he added.
“The UAE has been the single-largest export market for the US in the MENA region since 2009, with US$16.7 billion worth of exports in 2021,” according to Sebright, who was in Abu Dhabi leading the council’s delegation to attend the 6th edition of the Global Aerospace Summit which concluded on Thursday.
He said that since its inception in 2007, the Council has grown to over 200 member companies, reflecting the strength of the bilateral economic and trade relationship and has directly impacted key bilateral economic and trade policies and initiatives.
“One of the UAE’s sovereign wealth funds, Mubadala Investment Company, has invested over US$100 billion in the United States. Other UAE sovereign wealth funds also have invested heavily in the US over the last 20 years. In turn, more than 1,500 US companies do business in the UAE, selling goods and services and helping to create high-paying jobs at home in the US,” he remarked.
Danny Sebright, who was a panelist and key speaker at the aerospace summit, said that the event provided valuable networking and market intelligence opportunities to supplement those on offer at the Summit itself. “This leads to real connections and real business that support the development of the aviation and aerospace business ecosystem,” he noted.
Cooperation in Space Sector
Sebright said that the Business Council has been promoting the partnerships between the US and the UAE in space since day one of the UAE’s nascent space exploration programme. “Since the 2018 agreement between NASA and the UAE Space Agency, the Council has worked diligently to showcase and highlight opportunities for cooperation between the two countries in this important area.
“With the UAE being one of the signatories of the Artemis Accords, the cooperation in this vertical will only grow between the US and the UAE and this will continue to be a focus of our work.”
“We have consistently worked to highlight opportunities for American companies to provide best-in-class solutions to the UAE Space Programme,” he added.
Artemis Accords is an American-led effort based on a shared vision for principles, grounded in the United Nations’ Outer Space Treaty of 1967, to create a safe and transparent environment that facilitates exploration, science and commercial activities for the benefit of all humanity.
Climate Change and Sustainability
Sebright said, “The Council established a ‘Climate Change Task Force’ in early 2021, following the appointment of Dr. Sultan Al Jaber as UAE Special Envoy for Climate, bringing together leaders from business, academia, and government to create opportunities for better understanding and cooperation in the broadest terms between our two countries.
“The Council plans to redouble our focus on climate change and sustainability over the next 18 months as the UAE prepares to host the COP 28 Conference in November 2023.
“In recent weeks, we have held discussions with the office of Sultan Al Jaber to explore ways the UAE can involve the US private sector to make COP28 a resounding success. In this regard, the Business Council has agreed to take the lead role of engaging with the US business community ahead of COP 28.”
“The Business Council looks forward to mobilising the business community in every way to move forward with this engagement,” he continued.
The United Arab Emirates has announced the UAE Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative, a national drive to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, with an investment of over AED600 billion (US$163 billion) in renewable energy.
“For the UAE, its net-zero commitment is an opportunity to create economic value at home including through the creation of a green economy, particularly around hydrogen.”
“There is a big role for US companies to play in this regard,” Sebright said, adding, the US companies can best support climate initiatives by creating “new technologies to help the UAE decarbonise”.
UAE’s response to COVID-19 pandemic
Sebright said that the UAE’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been “nothing short of exemplary”, and it has been consistently recognised as such by objective authorities such as Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking.
“Indeed, the UAE quickly implemented far-reaching and responsible national campaigns to test and vaccinate, while ensuring sufficient personal protective equipment, or PPE, for its people.
“As a result, it was able to effectively contain the spread of the virus. This enabled the return to business as usual and even attracted businesses, entrepreneurs, and high net worth individuals from around the world to move to the UAE.”
At the same time, the UAE accelerated a process of economic and social reforms that have reified the country’s position as the place to do business in the region. “This culminated last fall in the introduction of the Projects of the 50, which will make the UAE a truly global business hub,” Sebright observed.
Projects of the 50 and the US market
The US-UAE Business Council president described the ‘Projects of the 50’ programme, as an important story that he is looking to tell in the US market. “We officially kicked off a ‘Projects of the 50’ programming series in the United States with a roundtable discussion in New York City on May 12th… The Council will continue to tell the story of the UAE Projects of the 50 around the United States in collaboration with our partners, and we will organise future engagements in Florida, Texas, and California.”
Women and young entrepreneurs
Asked about the Council’s support for women and young entrepreneurs, he said, “Supporting young entrepreneurs is also an important element of our work, at the Business Council, we recognise the power and importance of inclusion, diversity, and equality.”