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Latin American firms turn to Dubai for investment

Latin Trade Staff | 

Between 2016 and 2021 the Gulf Co-operation Council countries invested $4 billion in LatAm countries, 77% of which was sourced from the United Arab Emirates, a report sponsored by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce stated.

The report, entitled Cultivating Ties: Deepening trade and investment between Latin America and the GCC, was issued ahead of the Global Business Forum Latin America 2022, which takes place March 23rd-24th, at Expo 2020 Dubai’s Dubai Exhibition Centre.

The whitepaper examines the evolving trade and investment relationship between LatAm and the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries and identifies key areas of opportunity where the GCC can be a destination for LatAm products, a supplier for industries, an investor for growing operations, and a knowledge partner for industry best practices.

The report is based on a survey of 200 senior executives in LatAm, conducted between May and July 2021. Respondents were drawn from a range of sectors, including around 15% each from agriculture and food, financial services and fintech, retail and e-commerce, industry and energy, healthcare, transport and logistics and 10% from professional services and marketing. The survey focuses on how businesses performed during the pandemic, their responses to challenges, the post-pandemic business outlook, and drivers of engagement with different regions such as the Middle East (including the GCC), Africa and South-East Asia.

Key takeaways:

  • LatAm growth will come from sectors that require engagement with international markets. The highest shares of executives who expect revenue to expand in 2022 are in the healthcare industry and the food and agriculture sector (cited by 97% in each). This includes producers of medical equipment, pharmaceuticals (including vaccines) and a host of food products from coffee to poultry. These products are among the region’s key exports and will continue to rely on external demand for growth.
  • The GCC and Latin America have a complementary but limited trade relationship. The GCC imports iron ore from LatAm for the production of aluminum, which it then exports to LatAm. LatAm imports fertilizer for its agricultural sector from the GCC, and the agricultural outputs are then exported to the GCC. However, trade levels are low. In 2020, imports from LatAm accounted for just 3.2% of the GCC’s total imports and 1.6% of LatAm’s total exports.
  • LatAm executives are starting to turn to the GCC for investments. Just 5% of the executives we surveyed in 2021 were engaging with the GCC to secure investments, but 28% said they were interested in doing so in the future. Between 2016 and 2021 the GCC invested $4 billion in LatAm countries, 77% of which was sourced from the UAE, 22% from Saudi Arabia and 1% from Qatar.
  • There is an untapped opportunity for knowledge exchange between the two regions. The GCC countries have successfully executed road, electricity and telecommunications infrastructure projects. LatAm is home to a rapidly expanding fintech industry and has an established agricultural sector. There is an opportunity for sharing best practices in sectors vital for growth.

See the full report here.

H.E. Hamad Buamim, President & CEO of Dubai Chambers, said the report reflects strengthening and expanding GCC-LatAm economic ties, and noted that Dubai is playing a crucial role in accelerating trade and investment growth between the two regions, as the emirate serves as the main export and re-export hub for Latin American traders that supply markets across the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

“Dubai Chamber of Commerce developed this report to provide more clarity and market intelligence on as bilateral business opportunities that can benefit companies across Latin America, the GCC and the UAE. We look forward to examining such trends and opportunities in more detail as we engage with government and business leaders from both regions at GBF LATAM 2022, which will be the most significant edition of the forum to date hosted at Expo 2020 Dubai,” said H.E. Buamim.

Bearing the theme Towards a Resilient Future, the fourth edition of GBF LATAM is organised by Dubai Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Expo 2020 Dubai. It brings together heads of state, over 13 ministers, government officials, prominent business leaders and industry experts from the UAE and Latin America to explore new


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