Al Gergawi “UAE Government to Establish the Emirates National Competitiveness Council”

Published March 5th, 2008 - 01:04 GMT

Al Gergawi “UAE Government to Establish the Emirates National Competitiveness Council”

New council to enhance business environment and increase competitiveness

The UAE Government will establish the Emirates National Competitiveness Council which will be a Public-Private sector initiative with government representation from both federal and local levels, according to His Excellency Mohammed Al Gergawi, UAE Minister for Cabinet Affairs. The new Council will develop and recommend policies to boost the competitiveness of the UAE in all economic and social areas.

“Trade and investment are critical building blocks in the UAE’s drive for economic expansion and growth. As our economy develops we need to understand and perfect the reasons that attract foreign investments and enable new businesses to flourish at a time when global competition is becoming more intense”, said Al Gergawi

Al Gergawi’s statement came during his opening remarks at the ‘Doing Business 2008 advisory workshop’, held under the patronage of the Prime Minister’s Office, and organized by Hawkamah, the Institute for Corporate Governance, in collaboration with International Finance Corporation (IFC), World Bank Group.

This workshop is part of the road show of workshops the World Bank holds, at the request of governments, across the world to discuss the different findings of their ‘Doing Business 2008’ report.
His Excellency Engineer Sultan Saeed Al Mansouri, UAE Minister of Economy, His Excellency Dr Omar Bin Sulaiman, Governor, Dubai International Financial Centre and more than 120 senior officials from the UAE Government entities, Local Government entities and the private sector attended the high level workshop.

The one-day event held today at the Dubai International Financial Centre reviewed key findings of the report – ‘Doing Business 2008’ with a special focus on the ranking of the UAE, to propose an action plan to improve the doing business environment in the country and further enhance the country’s status as a favourable destination for regional and international businesses.

Underlining the UAE Government’s proactive approach towards achieving the goals set by the UAE Government Strategy in enhancing the competitiveness of the UAE, Al Gergawi said: “The objective of the Doing Business report is to help countries enhance their business activities and hence increase investment. This is in line with the UAE Federal Government Strategy and the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who sees the UAE as a leader in all aspects of economic development.”

Al Gergawi outlined the progress that the UAE government has made in terms of creating an enabling environment for doing business the result of which the UAE ranked 8th on AT Kearney’s FDI confidence index in 2007 which ranks the attractiveness of countries in the eyes of foreign investors.

Emphasizing the need for even more improvement, he said: “We still ranked 37 in the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness report and 68 in the World Bank’s Doing Business”.

Despite expressing concerns over the methodologies used in preparing the Doing Business reports, Al Gergawi noted that there were still challenges that needed to be met for the UAE to achieve its economic targets.

Doing Business reports provide measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 178 countries and selected cities at the subnational and regional level. They aim to evaluate regulations that directly impact doing business, make cross-country comparisons, and identify good practice reforms.

Dahlia Khalifa, Senior Strategy Advisor, IFC- World Bank Group, outlined key findings of ’Doing Business 2008‘, benchmarking the UAE for ease of doing business. She listed proposed guidelines the UAE could adopt to sustain its progress and increase its global ranking from the current 68th position. The UAE ranks among the top ten in the areas of registering property (8th) and paying taxes regulations (4th). However, challenges remain in the areas of starting a business (158th), getting credit (115th), enforcing contracts (144th), and closing a business (139th).

“While the UAE ranks ahead in several areas, reforms n a few indicators will make it easier for entrepreneurs in the UAE to do business”, said Khalifa.
The workshop’s panel which included H.E. Abdallah Al Saleh, Undersecretary, Ministry of Economy, Dr. Nasser Saidi, Executive Director, Hawkamah, Mr. Thomas Moullier, Program Manager Middle East & North Africa, IFC, and Mr. Faisal Jumaa BelHoul, Founder and Managing Partner, Ithmar Capital discussed the challenges that face the doing business environment in the UAE and the importance of developing proper reforms in that regard

Dr. Saidi, commented: “Building the core pillars of corporate governance: transparency and disclosure, fairness, accountability and responsibility improves the investment climate and attracts global capital and human talent to the UAE. These core standards are also important for the Ease of Doing Business, and for the UAE to confirm its standings as an international hub and diversify its economy.”

He added: “This workshop is important in designing and implementing an agenda for modernization and reform in policies and procedures to improve and lower the cost of doing business in the UAE. Indeed it’s part of excellence in providing government services that HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has called for”.

A series of panel discussions and breakout sessions at the workshop deliberated on the methodologies and global best practices for doing business, and designing and implementing reforms. The workshop concluded with group presentations on proposed action plans for reforms to build on the UAE’s current offering of a first-rate investment environment.

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