UAE to set up a council to improve investment climate

February 27th, 2008 - 6:19 pm ICT by admin  

By Aroonim Bhuyan
Dubai, Feb 27 (IANS) The United Arab Emirates will soon establish an Emirates National Competitiveness Council which will recommend policies to boost competitiveness in economic and social areas of the country. “We are soon going to establish the Emirates Business National Competitiveness Council which will be a public-private sector initiative with government representation from both federal and local levels,” UAE’s Minister for Cabinet Affairs Mohammed Al Gergawi said at an advisory workshop for Doing Business 2008 here Wednesday.

Hawkamah, the Institute for Corporate Governance, organized the workshop under the patronage of the UAE prime minister’s Office and in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Bank.

It is part of a road show of workshops the World Bank holds - at the request of governments - across the world to discuss the findings of their Doing Business 2008 report, which ranks countries according to their investment climate.

The UAE ranks 68th among 178 countries in terms of “ease of doing business”.

Al Gergawi said the UAE attracted foreign direct investment worth $19 billion in 2006 and this has been growing at the rate of 11 percent annually.

“However, we are still ranked 37th in the World Economic Forum’s global competitiveness report and 68th in the World Bank’s Doing Business report; that means there are still some challenges we have to meet,” he said.

The minister said trade and investment were 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,” he said.

Dahlia Khalifa, senior strategy advisor at the IFC-World Bank group, said the Doing Business report looks at the interface between an entrepreneur and the government in starting a business.

“The annual report is like going to a doctor for a check up,” she said.

According to the report, the UAE ranks among the top 10 countries in the areas of registering property (8th) and regulations for paying taxes (4th).

However, there were other areas that needed to be improved, Khalifa said.

“Starting a business (UAE ranked 158th), getting credit (115th), enforcing contracts (144th) and closing a business (139th) are areas weighing down on the UAE’s global ranking,” she said.

According to the report, the top performers in terms of starting a business in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

“In Saudi Arabia, it takes 15 days to start a business, whereas in Egypt, the time taken is nine days,” she said.

According to her, Saudi Arabia jumped up the rankings by several notches because it removed the minimum capital requirement for starting a business.

The report, which covered 178 countries, will include two more in its 2009 edition.

“We are going to include Bahrain and Qatar in our next report which will take the total number of countries in the MENA region to 19 from 17 and 180 overall,” Khalifa said.

Singapore tops the Doing Business 2008 report ranking followed by New Zealand and the US.

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