SHARJAH, UAE: Sharjah Government’s financial stimulus packages for businesses affected by the Coronavirus pandemic has been hailed as one of the most strategically planned and optimally released by business circles across the UAE.
The Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah), an affiliate of the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), organised a webinar on Monday (7thSeptember), titled ‘Understanding the Government’s Stimulus Plan and Incentives for Businesses’, in association with the Chinese Business Council in UAE, in a bid to educate Chinese businesses based in Sharjahas well as the large number of potential Chinese investors in attendance, on ways they can best leverage these incentives along with the full range of services offered by the emirate’s government departments to continue being successful in the UAE’s postCovid-19 economy.
The webinar received key inputs from UAE Ambassador to ChinaH.EDr. Ali Obaid Al Dhaheri, HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, Executive Chairman, Shurooq; Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, CEO, Invest in Sharjah;Ahmed SaifBinsaeed Al Suwaidi, Head of Commercial Investments Section, Sharjah Economic Development Department (SEDD);H.E.YiWu, Commercial Counsellor, Chinese Consulate in Dubai;and Frank Zhang, General Manager, XCMG UAE. Daniel Xu, Partner, King and Wood Mallesons MENA, moderated the panel.
Robust UAE – China trade relations will help both nations overcome Covid-19 crisis
Recounting the strong bilateral relations between the two nations, H.E.Dr. Al Dhaherire marked: “Last year, UAE and China celebrated their 35thanniversary of successful relations. In these years, trade between us has increased 800-fold, with non-oil trade surpassing US$ 50 billion in 2019.”
“China considers the UAE an ideal base for their businesses due to the sound infrastructure, logistics and connectivity we offer. Every day, new opportunities are added the horizon of bilateral trade between the UAE and China, and we are confident that our comprehensive and strategic partnership will result in trade in excess ofUS$ 200 billion by 2030. This robust relationship, I am confident, will play a key role in helping both nations rise above the economic challenges Covid-19 has thrown at us,” he added.
UAE will recover at a notable pace from Covid-induced downturn
Speaking about the support mechanisms for businesses in the Covid-19 aftermath, HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkalnoted: “The UAE Government created an AED 100 billion stimulus package for businesses affected by the pandemic. Sharjahhas created its own comprehensive AED 4 billion stimulus programme for all businesses, including SMEs and startups. We have been very transparent about this and benefited every business based on the extent of the damage they suffered. Since industries like tourism, airline, hospitalityindustries were among the worst hit,the Executive Council of the Sharjah Government created 47 points of stimulus plans to cover seaports to airports, retail to hospitality and healthcare. These lent an economic lifeline to affected sectors in Sharjah, and helped them recover quicker. Shurooq as an investor in the tourism sector was affected too. But with government support, once the properties were allowed to open with preventive and safety standards in place, we saw business pick up again. We are experiencing a phase of strong recovery, and I am quite confident that as time goes by, the UAE would be one of the most notable nations to recover quickly from the pandemic-induced downturn.”
He added: “If there is one thing that this pandemic has taught us, it is that challenges must been seen as opportunity. Food security in the UAE, for instance, became an area of concern, and vertical and aqua farming, which were not on Sharjah’s business sights earlier became an area to explore. We’ve been actively looking into ways we can support investors in this sector, and two companies in Sharjah, VeggiTech and Themar Al Emarat, are doing exceptionally well in vertical farming. We can look to China for technology in this area, especially the LED lights used for this. We aim to make UAE among the top countries in vertical farming and fish farming. Chinese investors are welcome to Sharjah to invest in manufacturing solar panels, robotics, AI and cyber security, among other sectors.”
On his part, H.E. Yi Wu, Commercial Counsellor, Chinese Consulate in Dubai, noted: “The UAE Federal Government and the Sharjah Government are committed to fully restoring economic and social life in the country, and have put forward a package of support measures that offer added relief to our struggling business operations. We must seize this opportunity, taking the initiative to strengthen coordination and communication with relevant local government agencies and strive to gain their support to alleviate the difficulties faced by Chinese enterprises. We have to find ways to turn crises into opportunities.”
He added: “I hope that the Sharjah government agencies will continue to attach great importance to the relevant concerns and specific demands of Chinese companies and create more prospects for economic and trade cooperation between the two parties.”
Sharjah’s world-class infrastructure ideal for FDI in advanced manufacturing and AI
Outlining the role of Invest in Sharjah in mitigating the travails of Sharjah-based businesses in this scenario, Mohamed Juma Al Musharrkh, said: “Invest in Sharjah has been supporting companies to be flexible and shift focus to activities that can safeguard their businesses. For instance, some surgical, chemical, and plastic manufacturing companies began producing goods that are in demand now, such as masks and PPEs, among others. We liaised with local government and federal authorities for the required permissions. Through the Sharjah Investors Services Centre (Saeed), we helped businesses renew licences and registrations remotely, apart from advising them on how to avail of the government stimulus packages. We invite Chinese investors, especially in advanced manufacturing and artificial intelligence, sectors for which Sharjah has the infrastructure, rules and regulations in place.”
Ahmed SaifBinsaeed Al Suwaidi, Head of Commercial Investments Section, SEDD, said: “SEDD is one of the first departments in the UAE to be fully digitalised, which has helped us adapt to the recent changes fairly easily. We have also amended some rules and regulations to ease the burdens on companies in these difficult times.”
Sharjah-based Chinese businesses laud emirate’s stimulus package support
Speaking about the stimulus packages, Frank Zhang, General Manager, XCMG UAE, said: “Our company has been in Sharjah for more than 20 years. We manufacture construction machinery and we are grateful to the Sharjah Government for taking the lead in formulating a stimulus plan that is working for us. We have been given full support by all government authorities in these difficult times to reduce costs and safeguard our business.”
The UAE is China’s most important trading partner in the region.As of September 2020, Sharjah is home to 594Chinese businesses, of which 371 are onshore and 223 offshore. There are 4 onshore and 34 offshore Hongkong companies registered in Sharjah.