First of its kind Virtual Expo showcases 3,000 exhibitors and their products using 3D AR technology
Bilateral trade between China and the UAE is expected to grow steadily in the coming years due to strong trade and people-to-people relations between the two countries as they both transition to truly digital economies.
High-level panellists at the first China-UAE Economic and Trade Digital Expo, remained optimistic that the pandemic was only a temporary roadblock and that the two countries would bounce back together shortly.
The event is hosted by the UAE’s Ministry of Economy and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) and organised by Hala China in partnership with the China International Exhibition Centre Group Corporation (CIEC).
The ongoing seven-day virtual event highlights emerging opportunities in Smart Cities, Big Data, Energy, Modern Agriculture, Free zones, Finance and Investment, New Building Materials, Textile and Fashion, Education, Healthcare Supply, and Travel and Tourism, through a series of virtual exhibitions and discussions with keynote speakers.
More than 300 VIP guests and dignitaries dialled in remotely from across China and the UAE for the first virtual event of its kind.
Among the panellists on the UAE side were His Excellency Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade at the UAE Ministry of Economy, His Excellency Dr Mohammed Al Zarooni, Secretary-General of the Dubai Free Zone Council, and Huda Buhumaid, Board Member of Hala China, among others.
The event’s value in advancing the bilateral relationship between the UAE and China was demonstrated through the speeches of both His Excellency Dr Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri, the UAE Ambassador to the People's Republic of China and His Excellency Ni Jian, Ambassador of the People's Republic of China to the UAE.
Since the widespread disruption of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, large scale events have taken to online mediums through accelerated digitalisation.
The debut expo looks to carry out a digital feat with over 3,000 exhibitors who are showcasing their latest products virtually through 3D – AR technology to fast-track efforts by the two nations to promote bilateral trade.
His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi stated: “The UAE is China’s most important trade partner in the Arab world and is responsible for 28% of total non-oil trade between China and the Arab countries.
"Currently, the UAE is home to over 4,000 Chinese companies, including those based in free zones. Apart from that, 404 Chinese trade agencies and 8,782 Chinese trademarks were registered in the UAE as of 2019.”
The opening ceremony of the exhibition, hosted by Zhang Shenfeng, Vice Chairman of CCPIT, began with a speech by Gao Yan, Chairperson of CCPIT, who said: “This expo is a practical demonstration of the new road to recovery that the UAE and China are on.
"At the helm of the Belt and Road Initiative and as a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), China has contributed more than 30% to the world’s economy.
"This pandemic has only put a temporary stop to the world, and this is a start as the world readies itself once again for businesses to open.”
The speakers acknowledged that Hala China has risen quickly to become a key driver of strengthening bilateral, cultural, trade and socioeconomic ties between China and the UAE.
Speaking next, His Excellency Dr Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri welcomed the audience to the first digital trade expo, and commended the dedication of both nations to bilateral trade and growth, despite the crisis.
Huda Buhumaid, Board Member of Hala China, in her address, celebrated the digital feat of the exhibition, and said: “Between 2018 and 2019, the two-way trade between China and the UAE grew by 16% to exceed AED184 billion.
"And, on the other side, the UAE’s continued efforts to diversify its economy are a notable aspect of this trade relationship. In 2019, the UAE’s non-oil exports to China grew from AED5.1 billion to AED8.4 billion.”
Orhan Abbas, Senior Vice President-Commercial Operations, Far East at Emirates, said: "China is a very important market for Emirates and a vital part of our network.
"As the first airline to establish non-stop connectivity between the Middle East and mainland China in 2002, with freighter operations to Shanghai followed by passenger services in 2004, we are pleased to participate in this conference and look forward to continued cargo services, plus the resumption of passenger flights to China.
China’s overall direct investment in the UAE reached AED2.4 billion between January and September 2019, a year-on-year increase of 171%. A key forum at the exhibition covers Investment and Free zones.