UAE's Minister for Foreign Trade Highights Depth and Breadth of UAE-USA Commercial Ties
The National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC), in cooperation with the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), today hosted H.E. Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, the UAE’s Minister for Foreign Trade. At a luncheon that included 250 business leaders and government officials, including ambassadors representing a number of Arab nations, Her Excellency highlighted the remarkable relationship between the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
“Our Chamber is deeply honored to host H.E. Sheikha Lubna,” said David Hamod, President & CEO of the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce. “Over the years, first in a private sector capacity and then as minister, Her Excellency has contributed greatly to the special relationship shared by our two nations and peoples. There are very few individuals in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region who understand America — and Americans — as well as H.E. Sheikha Lubna does, and we are immensely grateful for her vital role in promoting ties of friendship and commerce between the UAE and the USA.”
The Chamber luncheon followed the announcement by the Hon. Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State, that H.E. Sheikha Lubna has been appointed to the International Council on Women’s Business Leadership. The new entity, which held its first meeting in Washington this week, will serve in an advisory capacity on major issues in international business and economic policy, including advancing and promoting the role of women in a competitive global economy. The Council is made up of 20 members, and H.E. Sheikha Lubna is the sole representative from the Arab world.
In her remarks at the U.S.-Arab Chamber luncheon, Her Excellency shared her vision of U.S.-Arab relations in general and U.S.-UAE relations in particular.
“I am pleased to report that in this world of change, the U.S.-UAE relationship is rock-solid and getting stronger,” she said. “The UAE has remained a safe and secure place for corporations or individuals to invest and operate their businesses. This climate of stability is essential to cultivating our dynamic economy.” With that in mind, she noted, the UAE “wants to continue to be ‘the gateway’ for American businesses, both large and small, to tap into the growing Middle East and Gulf markets across all sectors.”
Consistent with Her Excellency’s statements, a recent study by the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce noted that the United Arab Emirates has been the top destination in the Arab world for U.S. goods and services for more than five years. By the end of 2013, the study predicts, U.S. goods and services to the UAE may surpass $35 billion per year. The U.S. share of the UAE’s merchandise import market is expected to grow to more than 10 percent, the study says, while the U.S. share of the UAE’s service import market is on track to grow to 30 percent. (Click here to see a copy of this NUSACC report.)
In 2010, the most recent year for which data are available, U.S. merchandise exports to the UAE totaled $11,638,320,469, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Sales of transportation equipment topped the list, followed by computer & electronic products and machinery. The top ten exporting states to the UAE (in descending order) were Texas, California, New York, Washington, Florida, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. On average, the UAE purchased nearly one-third (30.9 percent) of these states’ exports to the Arab world. (Click here to see more UAE-U.S. trade data.)
The State of Washington, where Boeing aircraft are produced, has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of UAE-U.S. trade. In November 2011, at the Dubai Air Show, Emirates Airlines placed an order for 50 Boeing 777 jets — representing the largest commercial order by value in Boeing’s history. Including options to buy 20 more 777s, the total deal is worth $26 billion.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Emirates Airlines’ planned investment in American industry is expected to support skilled jobs in more than a dozen states and impact over 250,000 direct and indirect American jobs. These jobs span the entire supply chain and include more than 440 American suppliers servicing Boeing’s 777 program. H.E. Sheikha Lubna noted, “Emirates and Etihad Airlines continue to be significant purchasers of Boeing wide-body commercial aircraft. These significant deals are a direct boost to U.S. jobs and the overall economy.”
The breadth and depth of U.S. goods and services shipped to the UAE is reflected in the diversity of sponsors for today’s Chamber luncheon. The six sponsors included (in alphabetical order): Black & Veatch (engineering & construction), Boeing (aerospace), DLA Piper (law), ExxonMobil (oil & gas), Occidental (oil & gas), and Pratt & Whitney (engines).
As one measure of the increasingly close commercial relations between the UAE and the USA, H.E. Sheikha Lubna pointed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was signed just last week between H.E. Dr. Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and the Hon. Robert Hormats, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs. The MOU establishes a senior-level dialogue between the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and U.S. State Department to boost economic and trade relations. “I am excited about this new platform, and I believe it will serve to enhance and grow our already robust economic partnership,” said Her Excellency. “This new framework is more than an agreement; it is a source of pride for the UAE.”
H.E. Sheikha Lubna is one of the most recognizable government officials in the Arab world, in large part because of her groundbreaking achievements over the years. In November 2004, she became the first woman in her country to assume a cabinet position with her appointment as the UAE’s Minister of Economy. Building on this success, in 2008, she was appointed Minister for Foreign Trade, spearheading a new ministry.
Consistent with her appointment by U.S. Secretary of State Clinton to the new International Council on Women’s Business Leadership, H.E. Sheikha Lubna discussed the role of women in the UAE. Her nation’s values of tolerance and openness, she said, are reflected in the progress of Emirati women. “Forty years ago, few females were sent to schools,” she noted. “However, in today’s society, women represent 70 percent of all university graduates in the UAE.” Moreover, she pointed out that “up to 30 percent of small & medium-sized enterprises in the UAE are run or owned by women, and recent statistics show that there are approximately 11,000 women entrepreneurs throughout various sectors in the UAE.”
In 2010, Forbes magazine recognized Her Excellency as the most powerful woman in the Arab world and one of the 100 most powerful women in the world, commending her work to build trade relations and promote the “brand” of the UAE.The Wall Street Journal has recognized her as one of its “50 international women to watch,” calling her “one of the Mideast’s highest-profile movers and shakers.”
In recognition of her exceptional contributions to the field of international relations, H.E. Sheikha Lubna has received numerous honors from many nations, including the United States. At today’s luncheon, the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC) presented her with its “Lifetime Achievement Award” for her many contributions to U.S.-UAE and U.S.-Arab relations.
H.E. Sheikha Lubna returned the favor, recognizing NUSACC as a market leader in the United States. She noted, “The National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce has been, and continues to be, one of the premier organizations in the United States dedicated to growing U.S.-Arab business. The close collaboration between NUSACC and Arab countries helps contribute to the vibrancy of commercial ties between the U.S. and the UAE, as well as many other Arab nations.”
Despite the many awards that have been bestowed on her, H.E. Sheikha Lubna remains down-to-earth and carries out her responsibilities as Minister for Foreign Trade with dedication. Of that role, she says, simply, “I am honored to be a privileged contributor to our nation’s quest for sustained economic prosperity . . . I will fulfill my duties and responsibilities with vigor and passion for excellence. It is also my mission to inspire all Emiratis, especially women, to be more productive members of the society and contribute meaningfully to the long-term progress of our country.”