(MENAFN - Arab News) Italian companies need to further explore the opportunities offered by the dynamic economy in the UAE which is a natural hub for serving the Middle East, Africa and Asia, said Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti.
He was speaking at the UAE-Italy Business Forum at the Dubai Chamber's headquarters.
"The development of a more structured presence in Dubai would allow companies and their Emirati partners to establish a more effective base to serve the vast markets of those macro-regions," added Mario Monti.
Mario Monti stressed in his speech that the UAE and Italian companies should build a strategic partnership by exploring investment opportunities offered by each other's countries.
He asked Italian businesses to establish a strong base here for expansion into the region while urging UAE traders to enhance their cooperation ties with his country's SMEs who are their natural partners.
Also present were Sultan bin Saeed Al-Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, Abdul Rahman Saif Al Ghurair, chairman, and Hamad Buamim, director-general, Dubai Chamber, and representatives of private sector companies in Dubai.
"We have to exploit the complementarity of our two economic systems. Synergy and co-investments between Italy and UAE should become a by-word for the development of initiatives in the GCC market but also in third countries, especially in North Africa. The UAE is our most important trading partner among all the Arab countries. Italian exports to the UAE increased 28 percent in 2011 to a total of 4.7 billion euro and we are likely to do even better in 2012 given the results from the first six months (3.2 billion euro)," added Mario Monti.
Sultan bin Saeed Al-Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, said the forum is the latest step in efforts by the UAE and Italy to enhance bilateral relations.
"It is a journey we are all enthusiastic to be making and it comes from a foundation of strong trade and business ties," he said.
Over the past decade, Al-Mansouri said non-oil trade between the UAE and Italy had increased by 295 percent.
It has risen from AED 5.5 billion in 2001 to just under AED 21.9 billion in 2011, he added.
Al-Mansouri stressed on opportunities for further UAE-Italian partnerships in agriculture, construction, the green economy, fashion, mechanics, and logistics and emphasized on stronger cooperation for economic development of both the countries.
"As a pillar of Dubai's economy, trade is a good indicator of economic ties and Dubai's trade with Italy has increased significantly over the past nine years. In 2002, it valued at AED 4.7 billion, but increased to AED 17.8 billion in 2011 which is an increase of 278 percent while presently there are 234 Italian partnership companies operating as members of Dubai Chamber," said Abdul Rahman Saif Al-Ghurair, Chairman, Dubai Chamber, in his speech.