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WASHINGTON, DC (20 February 2009) – In a speech delivered earlier today to the World Affairs Council of America annual meeting, Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of Foreign Trade for the United Arab Emirates (UAE), offered support to the Obama Administration and welcomed new trade and partnership opportunities between the UAE and the United States.
“The UAE is a firm believer in the resilience of the United States and its ability to rebound from the toughest adversities. Today, America’s greatest challenge is to rally its economy back to the level of productivity needed to sustain its vision of national growth and maintain its international leadership. We are gathered here to affirm our full support for this policy and to champion collaboration as the only path to global progress,” she said.
The UAE is the single largest export market for US goods and services in the Arab world. Bilateral trade in 2008 was about $15 billion, an increase of 32 percent over the 2007 figure of $11.5 billion. Sheikha Lubna highlighted UAE investment in US companies, including greenfield projects in New York and South Carolina that will create thousands of new jobs. The UAE is home to more than 30,000 Americans and 750 US businesses.
Sheikha Lubna also described the wide array of partnerships between the UAE and the United States. Prominent US universities with programs in the UAE include Harvard University, New York University and Michigan State. Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic also have a presence.
She touched on plans for the UAE—already named by the World Trade Organization as one of the top 30 trading countries in the world—to further liberalize and reform its economy to increase transparency, strengthen efficiency and promote good corporate governance.
During her remarks, Sheikha Lubna encouraged support for the US-UAE bilateral agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation—or “123 Agreement” after Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act. Called a “gold standard” for countries worldwide seeking to establish nuclear power, the UAE’s approach enhances international standards of nuclear non-proliferation, safety and security. “We believe the successful completion of the 123 Agreement would be good for US business because it provides for a very long-term and financially significant business partnership,” she said.
She also featured the UAE’s Masdar Initiative, a $15 billion investment in future energy solutions and clean technology such as solar and wind. The project funds activities from research to design to mass deployment and includes creating Masdar City, the world’s first zero-carbon, zero-waste, car-free city. The UAE is seeking to house the headquarters of the new International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), established in January, in Masdar City.
Sheikha Lubna closed her speech by noting, “Today, we face a global economic opportunity that draws us together to work on a better blueprint for long-lasting and stable international growth. Today, we have decided to use this opportunity to affirm our solidarity as a global community.”