(MENAFN - Arab News) Total Industrial investments in the GCC have jumped from 81 billion in 1998 to 338 billion in 2012.
The Gulf Organization for Industrial Consulting (GOIC) revealed some figures about the progress of industrial activities in GCC countries.
The number of firms in the GCC jumped from 7,089 in 1998 to 15,165 in 2012. The number of workers grew from 55,9420 workers to 1.34 million workers.
Most of these investments were in the areas of chemicals, refining petroleum products, base metals, construction metals, building materials and food industries.
GOIC highlighted these figures during the "Reality and prospects of UAE national industrial sector" conference in Sharjah, according to a press release here.
It is taking place with the support of Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Qasimi, member of the Supreme Council of the UAE and Ruler of Sharjah.
This conference aims at introducing high-quality UAE industries at the regional and international levels and discussing means of developing and diversifying them.
GOIC Secretary General Abdulaziz bin Hamad Al-Ageel gave a keynote speech in which he highlighted the Gulf industrial sector development.
Al-Ageel said: "More than 83 percent of GCC industrial firms are small and medium industries, but most industrial investments are in the area of big industries. More than 95.8 percent of the cumulative investments in the industrial sector of the Gulf."
He added: "As to the contribution of the industrial sector in GCC countries' GDP, it ranged between 9.5 percent and 10.5 percent from 2001 to 2012, except for 2008 when it was reduced to 8.5 percent because of the global financial crisis."
GCC countries also maintained a positive growth in the manufacturing industry value added in terms of the GDP throughout the last five years.
The GOIC secretary general stressed the role of GOIC in supporting industrial development projects in GCC countries by developing GCC industrial and economic databases, preparing several studies about the industrial sector and suggesting industrial investment opportunities in GCC countries.
In addition, GOIC provides public and private sectors with technical consulting services.
It also prepares studies and reports at the regional level, notably the GCC industrial map project that shed light on missing industries and target industries in GCC countries.
The organization suggested and promoted several investment opportunities in different GCC countries in coordination with chambers of commerce and industry and ministries of industry and trade.
Al-Ageel reiterated GOIC's will to keep up with international developments and their repercussions on manufacturing industries and knowledge-based industries in GCC countries.
The organization publishes an annual report about the readiness of GCC countries to move to knowledge-based industries.
In the last three years, analysis has led to two groups of states: the first is for countries that achieved remarkable progress toward knowledge-based industries and includes Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar.
These countries will be ready to move to knowledge-based industries by 2020 if they manage to fix their current vulnerabilities.
As to the second group, it includes Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain. They should deploy additional efforts to move to knowledge-based industries.
Al-Ageel also commended GCC countries for their achievements in this area.
He said: "Knowledge-based industries and industry innovation clusters have five pillars, and human resources is the most important pillar. In this regard, GCC countries made a quantum leap in terms of expanding the reach of basic, secondary and university education. Nevertheless, further efforts should be deployed to improve the quality and quantity of professionals in the area of knowledge. As to the second pillar, it is a framework for developing knowledge-based industries. GCC countries adopted excellent macroeconomic policies, and while frameworks of business policies still differ between these countries, they are generally solid but with some room for overcoming a number of restrictions."
The GOIC secretary general said: "The third pillar is a combination of capital, funding and liquidity. Although they are largely available in the region, there is a need to expand financing structures that are necessary to develop knowledge-based industries. Innovation systems are the fourth pillar. They encompass collective assets and operations boosting innovation in business applications. Foundations for supporting innovation systems in the GCC are being laid, but these initiatives are still immature and require additional time and attention in order to reinforce innovation capacities."
As to the fifth pillar, Al-Ageel said: "It is knowledge-based industry infrastructure; GCC countries have a relatively advanced infrastructure to develop knowledge-based industries, but further changes to some policies should be implemented."
He reiterated: "GCC countries need a specific policy for knowledge-based industries, since this type of knowledge has several implications on policies such as protecting knowledge assets and investing in producing or using knowledge assets. Government policies can develop appropriate frameworks to protect intellectual property that encourages producing and sharing knowledge between all stakeholders.
In addition to that, technical infrastructure and innovation are necessary, but they are not enough to prove the active development of manufacturing industries and to reinforce knowledge-based industries. These industries require appropriate legal and business environments in order to prosper and thrive in open and competitive markets. In fact, policies play a major role in determining these conditions."
Al-Ageel reminded governments and industrial investors that "knowledge-based strategies rely on competitive advantages in different countries. Therefore, industries with competitive advantages have a wide reach and benefit from established skills. They need comprehensive political reforms to provide a vibrant work environment which reduces bureaucracy barriers, improves access to financing and regulatory and statutory frameworks, and help improving education that is the first milestone toward responding to the pressing need for human capital."
Al-Ageel said: "Governments should play a bigger role in providing knowledge networks and public-private partnerships (PPPs). Such measures would reinforce knowledge-based industries, give priority to small and medium knowledge-based industries and boost privatization."