The UAE is set to maintain its lead in attracting the highest amount of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the Arab world, Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, the country’s economy minister, told delegates at the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) in Dubai yesterday.
The UAE was the recipient of $9 billion (Dh33.06 billion) in FDI in 2016, followed by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which received $8.1 billion and $7.45 billion respectively, according to WAM. In all, Arab countries saw an influx of $30.8 billion worth of FDI in 2016, a 25 per cent increase year-on-year.
“The UAE continued to attract sizeable levels of FDI… This is due to the federal and local government authorities’ efforts to facilitate [an attractive] investment environment,” Al Mansouri told the forum.
“Developing Asia remains a formidable economic force on the world stage and has regained its position as the largest FDI recipient region in the world, followed by the European Union and North America,” Al Mansouri said.
Global FDI fell by 16 per cent in 2017 to an estimated $1.52 trillion (Dh5.58 trillion), according to a body which belongs to the United Nations. However, developing economies maintained stable rates compared to last year.
“It becomes critical to address some of the major FDI issues facing [by] both developed and developing countries, not only for strengthening investment but to serve our efforts to direct the investment movement on a positive path serving the global economic growth,” Al Mansouri added.
World merchandise exports, valued at $15.46 trillion in 2016, are expected to grow this year as the global economy is forecast to hit 3.9 per cent growth in 2018.
A slowdown in trade liberalisation, an uptick in protectionism, and the risk of further reversals have been a drag on trade, investment, and growth, even as restrictive measures continue to rise.
“Although there are now signs of [a] fragile recovery, trade volumes grew by an annual average of less than 3 per cent in the eight years after the financial crisis — barely the rate of GDP growth — while FDI flows have yet to return to their pre-crisis levels. This slowdown of global trade and investment should be deeply worrying for all economies, but especially for small and developing ones,” Yonov Frederick Agah, deputy director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), said.
The WTO has been working towards increasing global trade flows by $1 trillion annually. This was followed in 2015 by the Information Technology Agreement expansion deal — which covers 201 products with an annual export value of $1.3 trillion — and by the agreement to ban all forms of agricultural export subsidies.
“But progress like this is possible only when we recognise that the world economy has never been more interdependent; that no country, even the most powerful, can solve its trade and investment challenges on its own; and that the answers lies in more, not less, global cooperation,” Agah added.