Spain wants to increase current €3bn FDI in UAE: Spanish minister

Spain wants to increase current €3bn FDI in UAE: Spanish minister

By Binsal Abdulkader

ABU DHABI, 25th February 2020 (WAM) – The United Arab Emirates’ Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Spain has reached over €6 billion (US$7.3 billion), according to a senior Spanish official.

In an exclusive interview with Emirates News Agency (WAM), Xiana Méndez, Spanish Minister of State for Trade, also said Spanish FDI in the UAE is valued at around €3 billion (US$3.65 billion).

The UAE’s investments in strategic sectors in Spain, such as renewable energy, mines and other industries are "impressive," she added in an interview in Abu Dhabi during her first official visit to the UAE this week.

"I think that we can do more and better and also diversify the scope of the sectors receiving these investments [into Spain]," the Spanish minister emphasised.

"There is a lot that we can do in order to boost the Spanish investment here in Emirates. Even though these figures [€3 billion] are impressive and important, especially because they have increased in recent years; still we can do more. There's a scope for improvement."

Spanish investments in the UAE are mostly concentrated in some sectors related to agro-industry, she said.

The minister revealed that Spain has initiated talks on a bilateral investment protection agreement with the UAE and once it is concluded, it will further enhance the investment flow between both countries.

"I think there's a lot of interest from both sides in having this institutional framework to boost foreign direct investment in both directions," she explained.

A recent Reuters report quoting the Spanish Foreign Minister, Arancha González Laya, said Spain is in talks with sovereign wealth funds from several Gulf countries to co-invest in projects financed by European aid in order to leverage the initial investment. Spain is also seeking to increase Spanish companies’ investment in the Gulf countries, particularly in infrastructure development.

Asked about the report, Méndez said Spain's plan of increased investments in the UAE’s infrastructure sector will have preference in sustainable mobility, renewable energy, water and waste treatment.

On the investments from the Gulf, she said even without the European aid, Spain is a very attractive destination for foreign direct investment. "Sovereign funds know that and that’s why they have been presenting huge projects to Spain during the last decade. But it is true that with the arrival of these European funds, we will have the chance to identify new projects that will transform our productive sector."

In Abu Dhabi, she visited the International Defence Exhibition and the Naval Defence Exhibition (IDEX and NAVDEX) 2021. Many Spanish companies have been participating in IDEX for many years and "I was impressed by the quality of the products and services presented [at the event]," Méndez said.

In Dubai, the minister visited Gulfood 2021, a global event with the participation of 2,500 companies from 85 countries, including some of the most prominent brands in the food and beverage sector.

With the presence of 50 Spanish companies, the event is a great opportunity to enhance bilateral cooperation in the food sector, she said.

WAM/ Ibrahim Shukralla