UAE and South Korea to enhance cooperation in the growth of SMEs in both markets

UAE and South Korea to enhance cooperation in the growth of SMEs in both markets

Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, held a bilateral meeting with Lee Young, Minister of SMEs and Startups of Republic of Korea, to explore the strengthening of cooperation in promoting entrepreneurship and supporting the growth of small and medium enterprises in the two countries’ markets.

The meeting took place as part of the K-Business Day in Middle East 2023, which was held at Dubai World Trade Center on 12th and 13th June. It was attended by entrepreneurs, startup owners, investors, and business incubators and accelerators from both countries.

The meeting was attended by Shakir Zainal, Chief Business Officer at Emirates Development Bank; Iman Ben Chaibah, Head of Community Engagement at Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center ‘Sheraa’; Ahmed Alwan, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Hub71; Reem Abdullah, Director of Government and Strategic Affairs at Hub71; and Sheikh Dr. Majid Al Qassimi, Founding Partner at Soma Mater.

Bin Touq emphasised the strong, strategic relations ties between the UAE and the Republic of Korea, which continue to grow on the economic, trade and investment fronts, thanks to the shared aspirations of both leaderships to develop them and the frequent exchange of visits by high-level delegations.

He added,

“The UAE is Korea’s second largest trade partner in the GCC and the Arab regions as of 2022. The UAE-Korean non-oil foreign trade totaled AED 3.4 billion (US$917 million) in the first two months of 2023, up 9 percent from the previous year. In 2022, the volume of our non-oil trade exchanges totaled AED 19.5 billion, reflecting a 14 percent year-on-year increase.”

Growth of UAE investments and exports in the Korean market

The Minister of Economy said,

“The UAE exports to Korean markets continue to grow, achieving a notable 35 percent growth to reach AED 627 million (US$174 million) over January and February 2023. It exceeded AED 2.8 billion (US$781 million) in 2022, up 17.5 percent."

In terms of bilateral investments between the two countries, Bin Touq expressed confidence in the increasing momentum of UAE investments across various economic and commercial sectors in the Korean markets. The UAE had recently announced its intention to invest approximately AED 110 billion (US$30 billion) in South Korea over the next few years. Currently, the UAE's investments in Korea are concentrated in several key sectors such as industry, trade, shipping, communications, real estate, and commerce. Meanwhile, South Korean FDI in the UAE reached approximately AED 8.1 billion (US$2.2 billion) as of early 2021, marking a remarkable growth of 73 percent since the beginning of 2013. These investments primarily focus on the financial, insurance, mining, retail, real estate, transportation, energy, and technology sectors.

New strategies to foster startup growth in UAE and Republic of Korea

The meeting saw the UAE and Korea agree on new plans in the field of entrepreneurship, including programs and facilities to foster startup growth, enhance investments, and facilitate exports to new markets. The two minister also discussed incentivising and encouraging SME owners and entrepreneurs to invest in the emerging sectors of the economy to enhance their contribution to GDP growth.

Bin Touq underlined the paramount importance of fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem and driving SME growth as a key focus of the UAE's ‘Projects of the 50.’ Through collaborative efforts with government and private sector entities at local, regional, and international levels, the Ministry of Economy is committed to enhancing enablers and facilitating opportunities that drive the growth and scaling of startup enterprises, enabling them to expand both regionally and globally. This strategic vision aims to solidify the UAE's position as a leading global destination for aspiring entrepreneurs and SME owners, he noted.

UAE’s SME landscape

The UAE’s SME sector plays a pivotal role in driving national economic growth and ensuring its sustainability. In 2020, SMEs contributed approximately 63 percent to the country's GDP, exceeding AED 734 billion (US$200 billion). SMEs make up 94 percent of the total private sector companies operating in the UAE, with a staggering 557,000 companies. In line with its vision for the future, the Ministry aims to increase this number to one million by 2030. Moreover, SMEs account for 86 percent of private sector employment, which underscore their significance and remarkable contribution to employment creation across various economic and commercial sectors.

Exchange of experiences in fields of venture capital & modern technologies

He continued,

“The meeting marks a significant milestone in fostering greater opportunities for SMEs in both countries' markets. It serves as a platform to facilitate the exchange of experiences and knowledge between the UAE and Korea, particularly in areas such as venture capital financing, modern technologies, and innovative digital solutions. Notably, the UAE serves as a crucial gateway for Korean startups seeking expansion into new markets, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa region.”

The meeting explored the means to enhance cooperation in emerging economic sectors, with a specific focus on technology, artificial intelligence, smart agriculture, and health. Bin Touq took the opportunity to acquaint the Korean side with the advantages and capabilities offered by the various initiatives and programs under the “The Entrepreneurial Nation” project, which has been designed to support and empower entrepreneurs and startups in the UAE.

Korea extended a special invitation to the UAE to participate in “2023 COMEUP”, the largest entrepreneurship and startups event in the country. Scheduled to take place from 8th to 10th November 2023, the event anticipates the attendance of more than 60,000 visitors and boasts a lineup of 100 influential speakers.

The "K-Business Day in Middle East 2023" witnessed an extensive turnout of entrepreneurs, startup owners, investors, and business incubators and accelerators. The event was organised by a group of investment institutions and business incubators in the UAE and Korea, including, Korea Federation of SMEs, Korea Institute of Startup & Entrepreneurship Development, Korea SMEs and Startups Agency, Korea Technology and Information Promotion, INNOBIZ Innovation Association, Korea Medical Device Association (KMDA), The Entrepreneurial Nation, UAE.

News Source: Emirates News Agency

Dark Light