‘UAE OUR BIGGEST TRADING PARTNER, INVESTOR IN THE REGION’
ABU DHABI, Nov 15 — The UAE is playing very a constructive role in addressing regional and international issues and challenges, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird has said.
He said Canada and the UAE have a shared strategic agenda and assessment of regional and international issues and Canada appreciates the UAE’s vision, insight and analysis of the situation in the region.
Baird, who is visiting the UAE for the sixth time to attend the fourth Sir Bani Yas Forum from 15 to 17 November in Abu Dhabi and hold talks with senior UAE officials on bilateral relations of friendship and cooperation, told the Emirates News Agency (WAM) that: ”We have strong ties with the UAE and we work together on a wide range of collaborative issues. We also have good political relations with the UAE in dealing with the crisis in Syria and Egypt.”
Baird said Canada and the UAE share views and strategies on many regional issues including the crippling crisis in Syria, Iran’s nuclear program, Egypt, the Middle East peace process, terrorism and violent extremism.
“There are many big challenges in the world and here in the Middle East the UAE has been playing a very constructive role. The UAE is recognized and respected for playing a very constructive role in the region.” Canada, he added, is also supporting Dubai’s bid to host the world Expo 2012 (2020).
“We think it will be a phenomenal world-class city to showcase to the world and we publicly endorse Dubai and speak to other countries in that respect. This demonstrates our friendship. We are supporting the bid and “we hope we can build on these high-level and warm relations for the benefit of both countries and peoples.”
He added: “We are committed to the UAE for the long term. Through our shared strategic agenda announced on my last visit only six months ago, we will both do more diplomatically, more commercially, and on collaboration on regional issues.”
In September 2012, Baird signed a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement signed with his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Ottawa. The aim of the cooperation agreement is to create a framework that will allow members of Canada’s nuclear industry to cooperate with civilian nuclear facilities in the UAE that come under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.
The two countries also signed an administrative arrangement between the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs which implements the provisions of the nuclear cooperation agreement to ensure the peaceful use of Canadian nuclear items authorized for export by the CNSC. Together, the nuclear cooperation agreement and the administrative arrangement will allow Canadian companies to export nuclear items for peaceful uses, in accordance with Canada’s nuclear non-proliferation policy.
Economically, Baird said, “UAE is one of our biggest trading partners in the Gulf and Arab World. In 2012, trade exchange stood at CD 1.6 billion and the figure is expected to rise.
‘I think the level of trade exchange is good but we want to make it better whether in agriculture, investment or defense.” He added that Emirati investment in Canada were estimated at between Canadian dollar 15-30 billion, making the UAE one of the largest foreign investors in Canada.
”We have an important trade relationship with the UAE. We also have 40,000 Canadians living and working here in the UAE including a significant number of professionals, architects and educators. There are also about 150 Canadian companies operating in the UAE in various vital sectors, Baird said.–WAM