Thursday, June 20, 2024

Bringing Two Worlds Together – Global Business Forum ASEAN Enhances Gulf – ASEAN Ties

One of the most exciting economic regions, ASEAN is expected to have a combined GDP of US$5.2 trillion by 2025 – making it the fifth largest economy in the world and a prime destination for trade and investments. It is for this reason that the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Dubai Chamber) is organising the first Global Business Forum ASEAN (GBF ASEAN) from 8 to 9 December this year, which aims at enhancing trade, investment and cooperation between Dubai and the wider Gulf region with ASEAN.

As an official media partner of GBF ASEAN, our digital platform VOICE OF ASEAN, together with International Business Review brings to you an exclusive interview with H.E. Hamad Buamim –  President and CEO of Dubai Chamber – on the why Dubai finds South East Asia fascinating.

What are the objectives of the Global Business Forums organised by Dubai Chamber of Commerce?

Inaugurated in 2013, the Global Business Forum (GBF) series is a flagship initiative of Dubai Chamber, held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

It is part of our strategy to expand our reach, give our members new business opportunities in international markets, offer overseas investors a platform to conduct trade and commerce with Dubai, and strengthen the position of the Emirate as a global business hub and gateway to the world.

Since its inception, the GBF series has successfully driven high-level dialogue between Dubai and emerging markets identified as having bilateral trade potential. The series comprises GBF Africa, which focuses on the world’s largest continent and GBF LATAM, which deals with the evolving Latin American and Caribbean markets.

Taking place for the first time ever in December this year, GBF ASEAN will focus on the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The factors that led Dubai Chamber to organise this forum include, the high potential between the two markets, proximity, diversity in Dubai, strategic location connecting ASEAN with the rest of the world through trade, aviation and marine routes.

Our most recent trade analysis found that there is a potential to increase the export of 10 products from Dubai to ASEAN markets. These products were in Dubai’s top 20 exported products to the world in 2020, and ASEAN imported US$1.4 billion worth of them. However, these products only accounted for less than 6.5 percent of ASEAN imports, indicating a significant opportunity for Dubai traders to increase exports to ASEAN.

The analysis also found that ASEAN traders could increase the export of 10 products to Dubai. Last year, these goods were in ASEAN’s top 35 exported products to the world, with Dubai importing more than US$445 million in value. However, this made up less than 10 percent of ASEAN exports, which shows that there is an opportunity to increase exports from ASEAN to Dubai.

The inaugural GBF ASEAN will be taking place during the Dubai Expo. How do you see this benefiting both events?

Expo 2020 Dubai, under its theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,’ represents the perfect backdrop for the inaugural GBF ASEAN, with its focus on building global partnerships, the importance of partnerships between regions and the dismantling of boundaries despite the constraints of the global pandemic.

At the same time, GBF ASEAN complements the Expo experience by providing a platform for businesspeople from around the world to learn about the economic potential that ASEAN offers as a region.

Opportunities are abounding from accelerated digitalisation, increased investment in sustainable infrastructure, and stronger support for start-up ecosystems – all of which are features of the new normal. And nowhere are these opportunities more evident than in the ASEAN region, with the region’s leaders having pledged at the 37th ASEAN Summit held in November 2020 to rebuild their countries with a focus on resilience, sustainability and regional cooperation.

All this adds up to Expo 2020 Dubai and the first GBF ASEAN being the perfect platforms to create synergies for a new era of regional and global cooperation.

Please walk us through the programme for GBF ASEAN.

GBF ASEAN 2021 will feature a comprehensive programme of keynote addresses, presentations, panel discussions, business leader interviews, fireside chats, B2B meetings and workshops, as well as audience polling via a dedicated forum app. Government officials, business policy makers and investors from around the world are among the participants who have registered for the event.

Key focus areas during the two days of the forum will be how the pandemic has pushed ASEAN’s digital economy to exceed US$100 billion for the first time, creating a wealth of investment opportunities, while sustainable infrastructure financing is another key area and one estimated to be worth US$2.8 trillion in investments over the next ten years.

Also up for discussion is the need for both ASEAN member states and the UAE to develop a low-carbon economy to build a more resilient and sustainable future, with both regions considered to be two of the most at risk from climate change. Other issues to be explored include whether there is such a model as a Southeast Asian or Middle Eastern brand of entrepreneurship and how much can Dubai and Singapore, as global hubs for their respective regions, learn from each other.

What are your hopes and expectations for GBF ASEAN?

GBF ASEAN aims to introduce the business community in Dubai and the UAE to the untapped investment opportunities that currently exist in the ASEAN region. It also aims to showcase the status of Dubai as the region’s premier international business hub and an ideal destination for ASEAN exporters, with the Emirate’s strategic position between east and west, its advanced infrastructure and ease-of-doing business environment which facilitate the onward movement of goods and products into new markets. 

The success of the forum can be evaluated in many ways such as the trade and investment flows between the UAE and ASEAN markets, delegation visits, strategic cooperation partnerships, agreements to facilitate trade and tourism as well as business tie-ups.  

Analyses reveal that ASEAN countries play an important role in Dubai’s exports and that there are plenty more opportunities to improve bilateral trade. A rise in imports and exports between the regions would be one sign that GBF ASEAN has helped traders capitalise on the presenting opportunities, although naturally we are anticipating a marked improvement in bilateral trade in general as the global economic recovery gathers pace.

Is there any message you would like to give to delegates and visitors of GBF ASEAN? 

I would simply say that visitors and delegates should try and make Expo 2020 Dubai as much a part of their GBF ASEAN experience as the forum itself. I would encourage all participants, if possible, to spend at least a week in our Emirate to get a true flavour of its array of business opportunities and its stature as a gateway to markets beyond its borders. And aside from business and commerce – there is plenty else to see and do in Dubai, which is the entrepot of trade and cultures from around the world. Next issue, we will bring you coverage of the Global Business Forum ASEAN. And also, look out for live interviews with some of the distinguished speakers at GBF ASEAN, which we will be conducting on our show, VoiceS of ASEAN. Visit for more details

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