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Economic relations

Economic relations

Our trade relations with the UAE have intensified since the early 1990s. In 2011, the UAE returned to its historic position as France’s number one market in the Middle East. They absorb, on average, one third of our exports in the region, and our market share has recently returned to its pre-crisis performance. Our exports have more than tripled between 1998 and 2011 reaching €3.65 billion. The UAE generate our 4th largest trade surplus in the world at €2.41 billion.

The UAE are France’s 24th largest customer in the world (its 8th largest supplier of petroleum products), number 1 in the Middle East, and our 54th largest supplier. Despite strong growth in imports (€1.23 billion in 2011 compared to €580 million in 2009 comprised over 70% of oil amounting to €882 million), our trade surplus remains level (€2.41 billion). Dependence remains strong with regard to our aircraft exports (Airbus deliveries), representing 26.5% of total exports (€913 million). This is followed by mechanical equipment, electrical equipment, electronics and computers (€929 million), and consumer goods (€836 million). While aircraft sales are expected to slow in coming years until the start of A350 deliveries, the automotive sector (Peugeot) is rapidly growing. Moreover, our exports of agricultural and food products recorded strong growth, totaling €260 million.

French companies have signed major contracts in recent years in all areas: aerospace (outstanding orders of Airbus – the UAE have represented 3%-6% of annual sales by Airbus in the world since 2004 – with Emirates, Etihad, Air Arabia, MRTT tanker aircraft for the Air Force; delivery to Mubadala/Yahsat of two mixed telecommunications satellites by EADS Thales Alenia and launched by Arianespace, Air France reopening the Paris – Abu Dhabi line). This is also the case in hydrocarbons (renewal of the GASCO gas operating concession for 20 years with Total as a partner (15%), large engineering projects by Technip) and renewable energies (Partnership Agreement signed between Schneider Electric and Masdar, construction and operation of a solar concentration power plant by Total in partnership with Masdar and Abengoa). France is particularly active in infrastructures where such companies as GDF Suez (Shuweihat II power plant) and Suez Environnement (Degrémont), Veolia (Abu Dhabi and Al Ain waste water treatment plants), Alstom (Qidfa power plant with Sidem, Dubai tram), Alstom Grid, and Thales (Dubai airport and subway) stand out.

With FDI stock at €4.7 billion in 2009, compared to €485 million in 1998, the UAE’s FDI level in France is relatively modest but sustained, and represents a significant proportion of Middle Eastern FDI in France.

While it remains concentrated in the hydrocarbon sector and in banking, French FDI stock in the UAE is becoming more diverse and has increased significantly in recent years, from €291 million in 1998 to €2.6 billion in 2009 (34.6% of French FDI stock in the Middle East). French FDI flows in the UAE averaged €110 million per year between 1999 and 2008.

Updated on 15.03.12

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