By Rafiq Vayani
PANAMA CITY: Government and business leaders from the UAE and the Latin America and the Caribbean region (LAC) reinforced their commitment to improving bilateral ties and expanding economic cooperation at the third Global Business Forum (GBF) on Latin America, which began today (April 9th) in Panama City, Panama.
Organized by Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry in partnership with Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and programmed in association with Economist Evens, GBF Latin America – Panama 2019 was attended by H.E. Juan Carlos Varela, President of the Republic of Panamá; H.E. Jovenel Moïse, President of Haiti; H.E. Panamanian Vice President and Foreign Minister, Isabel De Saint Malo; H.E. Mohammed Ahmed Bin Abdulaziz Al-Shehhi, Undersecretary of Economic Affairs for the UAE Ministry of Economy; H.E. Majid Saif Al Ghurair, Chairman of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry; H.E. Hamad Buamim, President & CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Luis Alberto Moreno, President of IDB; policymakers, ministers, top government officials and business leaders from the LAC and GCC regions.
“Our countries play a key role in regional connectivity. Our economy is one of the fastest growing in the region and Panama has created a policy to strengthen the bilateral relations with the Arab Gulf in strategic sectors” H.E. President Varela stated during the opening of the forum.
During a high-level meeting with government and business leaders from the UAE, H.E. Varela revealed that Panama and Dubai would plan to establish special working groups to foster cooperation in key sectors of mutual interest, including tourism, real state, free zones, among others, to achieve short term results and boost bilateral relations.
Speaking about UAE-Latin America synergies and strengths, H.E. Al Shehhi noted that UAE’s policy of openness and strong commitment to economic diversification has been the base for its success story, adding that this strategy has enabled the country to look outward and build partnerships in different parts of the world. He noted that GBF Latin America is a continuation of that strategy as the event is key to increasing trade and business exchange.
In his welcome remarks, H.E. Al Ghurair stated: “Hosting this event in Panama is not only practical but also a symbol of the deepening relations between our two countries.
This Forum provides clarity on key trends reshaping Latin America and Caribbean markets, as well as the opportunities in these markets that can benefit businesses in the UAE, including Dubai Chamber’s 231,000 members.”
H.E. Al Ghurair revealed Dubai Chamber’s plans to open a fourth Latin American representative office in Mexico City later this year which he described as a strategic move will enhance its efforts to expand trade between Dubai and Latin America. The announcement comes a week after the Chamber opened an office in Buenos Aires, following office openings in Panama and Brazil in 2018 and 2017, respectively.
Dubai Chamber’s Chairman noted that GBF Latin America – Panama 2019 comes at a time when bilateral ties are expanding rapidly with this trend reflected in Dubai’s non-oil trade with Latin America which has surged 46 percent from $4.6 billion in 2011 to $6.7 billion in 2018, while the emirate continues to boost its exports to the region. These are important positive developments that have come from fruitful cooperation facilitated by the GBF Latin America platform, H.E. Al Ghurair added.
Addressing the Panamanian President and top government officials from Panama, H.E. Hamad Buamim said: “We are committed to Panamá and the Latin-America and Caribbean regions. We are here for the long-term, we have planted a seed and we are eager to see the results,” adding that he expects the GBF Latin America – Panama 2019, the first edition to be hosted outside of Dubai, to forge new partnerships and take bilateral relations to the next level.
H.E. Buamim, who also holds the position of Chair of the World Chambers Federation, also participated in a panel session during the forum which examined the changing dynamics of global trade and investment.
“Emerging economies, especially within the GCC, Latin America and the Caribbean regions have a lot to offer, but at the same time, the multilateral trading system and the private sector is experiencing changes and challenges which need new ideas and solutions. Now more than ever, businesses and governments must work together to develop policies and practices that make international trade work for everyone in the 21st century,” said H.E. Buamim.
In addition, H.E. Buamim highlighted key developments and trends that are reshaping the business landscape in the UAE and Latin America, as public and private sector players adopt advanced technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence as they navigate the Fourth Industrial Revolution. He described Dubai as a prime example of a government that has been able to enhance economic competitiveness by continuously introducing new business-friendly initiatives and measures, in addition to new regulation as it aims to meet the changing needs of companies in the emirate.
For his part, Moreno shared key findings from a new report released today by IDB during GBF Latin America – Panama 2019, which shed light on trade flows between LAC and GCC markets, and examined the potential for boosting bilateral trade in the future.
Citing the report, Moreno noted that trade between Gulf countries and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) could grow by $13 billion per year, if new measures and recommendations were adopted, such as the signing of more trade, investment and double taxation agreements between countries in both regions; increasing the number of diplomatic missions; establishing additional direct flights, and strengthening communications and exchange between business communities.
Held under the theme “New Hubs, New Regions”, GBF Latin America – Panama 2019 will continue on April 10th with several interactive joined by government and business leaders and industry experts who will explore new ways companies in the GCC and LAC regions can expand their cooperation in key sectors of mutual interest, namely food security and agribusiness, sustainability, trade and logistics, fintech and finance, tourism and renewable energy, among others.
Among the speakers and panelists joining the second day of the forum (April 10) are H.E. Miguel Vargas Maldonado, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dominican Republic; Fabrizio Opertti, Manager Integration and Trade Sector, Inter-American
Development Bank, USA; Shunko Rojas, Former Undersecretary for International Trade, Member of Global Future Council on International Trade and Investment, World Economic Forum, Argentina; Mahmood Al Bastaki, Chairman of the Board, Dubai Trade, UAE; Mauricio Lloreda, Chief Executive Officer, Protekto Americas, Colombia; Paulo Fernandes, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Mastercard, USA; Lars Ostergaard Nielsen, President Latin America and the Caribbean, Maersk
Line, Panama; Pedro Heilbron, Chief Executive Officer, COPA Airlines, Panama; and H.E. Essa Abdulla Al Ghurair, Founder and Chairman, EGI, UAE.