France vs. Belgium: Who wins on the GCC’s business pitch?
France faces Belgium at the World Cup semi-finals tonight. Today, however, we will be fielding a match of a different kind: a game for the greatest trade volume between the GCC and the two European nations.
The referee blows the whistle, and the ball is in France’s court.
France off to a strong start
A few years ago, France set a new record in 2013 in terms of the number of GCC investment initiatives taken, the daily Khaleej Times reported, especially in manufacturing activities and research and development operations that have doubled last year compared to the previous year.
Salim Saifi, chief representative of Invest in France Agency, or IFA, in the Middle East, said the European country continued to attract investments from GCC with 13 investment projects in 2013, enabling 514 jobs to be created or retained.
Belgium nabs the ball and scores a surprising goal!
In 2015, Belgium championed its relations with the UAE, its greatest link to the Middle East.
At the time, Pieter De Crem, Belgian Federal Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, said that “the UAE is by far the most important trading partner in the Arab world as it is a base of stability, prosperity, development and progress.”
He added that Belgium was the largest importer of goods from the UAE within the EU at the time.
France makes a comeback, scores right before half-time is called!
One year later, in 2014, the UAE remained the leading source country in GCC with nine investment projects in France since the last two years, followed by Saudi Arabia with four projects, according to the “2014 Annual Report: Foreign investment in France, the international development of the French economy.”
In 2016, France received $1.23 billion (€1.05 billion) in imports from the UAE.
France maintains greater possession beginning in the second half
France is refusing to let up, continues to put on the pressure.
In Q2 2016, UAE investments in France accounted for 35% of the total investments from the region.
Reuters reported in late 2017 that Abu Dhabi state fund Mubadala Investment said it planned to invest millions of euros in businesses and other organizations in France under a deal signed with French state-backed investment vehicles CDC International Capital and Bpifrance.
The agreement aims to invest up to 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) in the French economy.
Belgian fans in the stands rejoice! Belgium scores a penalty!
We are reaching the home stretch, with 10 minutes left on the clock. The French team’s dominant presence has made them arrogant, and they have slipped up. Their striker receives a yellow card following a nasty foul. Meanwhile, Belgium snatches a penalty goal!
According the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) Mohamed Issa Abushabab, the UAE ambassador to Belgium and the EU, said earlier this year that his country has negotiated 63 bilateral investment deals and noted that the economic relations between Europe and the UAE were growing and expanding.
The Mubadala Investment fund and Solvay, a Belgian chemical and advanced materials company, have announced the establishment of a joint venture (JV) company that will become the first manufacturer in the UAE of ‘prepreg’ composite materials critical to the aerospace industry, cementing Belgium as a key contributor to the UAE’s aerospace sector.
Belgium is in a position to win this.
France scores not one, but two goals in the last 5 minutes!
The pressure must’ve gotten to the French players, as the adrenaline-filled team scores not one, but two goals in the remaining 5 minutes, leaving them as the ultimate winners.
How has this come to pass?
Well, earlier this year, France’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe promised lower taxes and a business-friendly France, seeking investment from the oil-rich Gulf region.
He promised a “favorable framework for business and investment” and a drop in corporate taxes in France, which is a godsend for GCC businesses seeking to set-up there.
UAE’s sovereign fund amounts to more than $800 billion, Arabian Business reports. However, only $3 million of those are going into French-based investments.
To top that of, and in a double bill, Philippe had just recently overseen the signing in Dubai of a $16 billion purchase by Emirates airline of the European Airbus A380 superjumbo commercial airliner, from French co-owned company Airbus.