The value of UAE clothing imports was $960 million last year,  said an industry expert, citing the International Trade Statistics 2013 report published by World Trade Organization (WTO). “This figure shows the UAE’s rising position as a re-export centre, thanks to its strategic trading location and ease of doing business. It also reflects the UAE’s re-export operations to neighbouring Middle East countries and the wider North African and Asian markets ,” added Midhat M Abu Ghazaleh, CEO, Abughazaleh Trading Company, (Abco) and regional expert in trade and franchise. “We anticipate steady growth in the GCC clothing trading sector in 2014. We have begun the new year with the launch of a new outlet for Sombra brand  in the UAE and we plan to expand its presence all over the region.” Commenting on the local sector in Dubai, Abu Ghazaleh said: “The Government of Dubai vision to attract 20 million tourists by 2020 and the preparations for hosting Expo 2020  are clear indicators of a rebound in the retail sector which is expected to grow to touch AED 151 billion in two years’ time.” Abu Ghazaleh revealed that Abco, like many other retail companies in the UAE, is expanding operations by seeking new franchise opportunities in the region. “We have seen tremendous interest from international brands that are keen to be part of the UAE’s market, especially after the successful bid for Expo 2020,” he said. “The event has bolstered confidence of international companies which spiced up opportunities in the local market. In addition, the government’s recent decrees to ease investments and boost incentives to businesses promise more robust growth that could surpass expectations of the most optimistic investors.” Abco  is one of the leading general trading companies in the UAE since 1975. It is a wholesale distributor and manufacturer of various types of apparel, footwear, luggage, hand bags and house hold products.