ABU DHABI (Reuters) – France and the United Arab Emirates are working to strengthen their economic relationship with “concrete outcomes” expected in the near future, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday during a visit to the Gulf Arab state.
He was speaking on the sidelines of the first meeting of the Franco-Emirati business council, set up last year, and included chief executives from Total, Airbus, BNP Paribas and Engie, among others.
“The level of the CEOs is a clear signal of our determination to give a new impetus to the economic relationship between the UAE and France,” said Le Maire.
“We will see in the near future, the concrete outcome of this Council,” he told reporters in Abu Dhabi.
Last year during a state visit by President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan to Paris, the UAE and France signed a strategic agreement to cooperate in the energy sector, including in hydrogen, renewable and nuclear energy.
The UAE, an OPEC oil producer, will host the COP28 climate conference in November.
Paris and Abu Dhabi already enjoy good ties with investments flowing, including France’s largest-ever overseas sale of the Rafale warplane in 2021. The two countries are also seeking to increase cooperation in sectors like space and food security.
In addition, European countries are looking to replace Russian energy imports after gradual supply cuts since Western sanction were imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Bilateral trade between the UAE and France reached 25 billion dirhams ($6.81 billion) in 2021, an increase of 25.9% from the previous year, an Emirati official said last year.
(Reporting by Rachna Uppal; Writing by Clauda Tanios; Editing by David Goodman and Christina Fincher)