Abu Dhabi: Bilateral trade between France and the UAE is expected to get a further boost with the election of Emmanuel Macron as the new president of France, according to economic experts.
Macron who is known for pro-business and pro-globalisation policies beat far right candidate Marine Le Pen in this week’s French presidential elections to become France’s youngest leader since Napoleon. It is widely believed that Macron will pursue business friendly policies to give a fresh impetus to trade and investment across different countries, experts said.
“There will now be a renewed interest to further promote bilateral relations especially between French and Emirati SMEs which is perhaps one of the main pillars of UAE’s diversification strategy into non-oil private sectors,” Ohan Balian, Chief Economic Advisor at Office of the Director General of Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry told Gulf News.
“The UAE has traditionally been a very open economy but in recent months France was exposed to somewhat protectionist views due to Brexit and it is very comforting that this view remains a dream after the election of President Macron.”
The total trade between the two countries was estimated at $5.6 billion in 2016 with almost 80 per cent of UAE exports to France in the form of crude oil, according to Abu Dhabi Chamber.
On the other hand, the UAE is the largest market for French exporters in the GCC countries exporting some $4 billion worth of goods and services in 2016 alone.
The UAE is also investing in a big way in France accounting for 35 per cent of the total investments from the region.
There are also a large number of French companies in the UAE with energy giant Total being the biggest one with operations in Abu Dhabi’s oil and gas sector.
Last year, the company won a 10 per cent stake to develop Abu Dhabi’s onshore oil fields as part of Adco’s 40 year concession. The UAE is also in talks with France’s Dassault aviation for purchase of fighter jets although no final decision has yet been taken.
The Louvre is also being built in Abu Dhabi in cooperation with France’s world famous Louvre museum in Paris.
Fashion, retail, food, tourism, and aviation are the other sectors where commercial and trade activities are thriving between the two countries.
Mihir Kapadia, CEO and Founder of Sun Global Investments in London said the election of Macron as France’s president is positive for the UAE and GCC countries as the new president would be interested in engaging France outside, the opposite of what his opponent Le Pen had proposed.
"At present France and the GCC economies have been engaging on multilateral platforms for trade and investments including in aviation, infrastructure, finance and banking. We will certainly see more bilateral business investments driven by (and optimism) pro-business agenda that Macron has proposed,” he said.
He added that France under Macron will not only reaffirm the ideals of a liberal pro-business nation but will remain a strong pillar of the European Union and its values of openness, globalisation and trade.