The first ever Latin American Business Forum in the United Arab Emirates is taking place to explore how nations in the two regions can continue to grow business and revenue between each other.
The two day Global Business Forum – Latin America is taking place in Dubai with more than 500 prominent stakeholders taking part including heads of state, policymakers, CEOs, business leaders, investors, industry professionals, in addition to heads of private banks, sovereign wealth funds, and private equity firms.
Imports and exports between the two regions have more than doubled since 2006. In 2015 the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) made up of the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, imported $11 billion (USD) worth of goods from Latin America. And exports to Latin America from the region were $5.6 billion (USD).
Both regions rely on each other for essential products. The GCC is heavily reliant on food imports, which account for over 80% of total domestic food consumption. In 2015 Latin America supplied nearly half the meat imports into the GCC and 36% of the region’s total sugar imports.
Brazil is by far the largest trading partner for countries in the region, followed by Argentina and Mexico. Among the Latin American states, the GCC relies on Brazil for meat (mainly poultry), Argentina for cereals, Mexico for vehicles and Chile for wood products.
The bulk of exports from the region to Latin America consists of oil, liquefied natural gas, and fertilisers.
Delegates to the event heard that compared with the rest of the world, large parts of Latin America are politically stable and promising as a trade destination. The recent slowdown has hit hard, but international business interest remains high.
And two White Papers released by the Economist Intelligence Unit to coincide with the forum outline how imports and exports between the two regions can expand and highlights the next steps needed to growth.
Expansion of direct air links: There are currently only seven daily direct routes to Latin America from the Gulf, with plans for more. This will facilitate direct business connections between the Gulf and Latin America, while also allowing the latter to forge closer associations with commercial partners in Asia
Expansion of industry and banking: Latin American businesses can set up industrial facilities in the Gulf region to process raw materials sourced from their home countries, such as iron ore. This will reduce the distance between production facilities and end consumers in Asia and Europe
Increased investment treaties: Only three bilateral investment treaties are in force: (Mexico with Bahrain, Mexico with Kuwait, and Costa Rica with Qatar). Other agreements have been signed but have not yet entered into force.
The Forum, organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce under the theme “Shifting Synergies”, explores how businesses can benefit from the changing patterns of global demand and what role Dubai can play in facilitating the next step in business relations. Dubai Chamber takes a pioneering position not only in the UAE and in the GCC but globally too, by acting as an information and research centre, by providing business documentation, offering legal services, facilitating networking opportunities via signature business events and delivering almost every conceivable business solution.