France to expand its SMEs in UAE’s agri-food sector

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Alain Griset, French Minister Delegate for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, has revealed that his government is negotiating an agreement to expand the presence of French SMEs in the agri-food sector in the UAE…writes Muhammad Aamir

“We are negotiating [with the UAE] an agreement on food safety that will strengthen the presence of our SMEs in the agri-food sector,” he told the Emirates News Agency (WAM).

“This is a strategic priority for the UAE especially since the beginning of the pandemic. I am convinced that we can have a fruitful cooperation in this field.”

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Over the past few months, Bpifrance, a French public investment bank, has signed agreements with ECI, the UAE export credit agency, and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), in the tech sector.

These agreements “will help to develop our SMEs’ exports to the UAE and [increasing] the establishment of our start-ups in the country,” the Minister said.

Griset said the French Government is taking action to prepare SMEs for future challenges within the framework of the France Relance plan (French recovery plan), which aims to meet three objectives: ecology through a green recovery, competitiveness through the revival of French economic sovereignty and its technological independence, and cohesion through a social and territorial recovery.

Nearly €40 billion of the €100 billion France Recovery Plan will benefit very small enterprises (VSEs) and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), either directly or through their participation in the implementation of the recovery plan (for example: thermal renovation of buildings and rehabilitation of social housing).

To date, VSEs/SMEs have already benefited from €24 billion in funding from the recovery plan. “This represents half of the amounts committed by the end of August 2021 by France Relance,” he explained.

The UAE is the most popular destination for French companies in the export recovery voucher (France Relance plan) after Germany and the United States, he added. “I am convinced that the French presence in the UAE will increase in the coming years.”

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There are more than 600 French companies working in the United Arab Emirates (+10% per year), including most major CAC 40 groups. In France, the United Arab Emirates is the second largest investor in the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf after Qatar, according to France Diplomacy – Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs.

The UAE market is attractive and has many assets: logistical infrastructure, standard of living and favorable business environment, he said.

“I am thinking of the reform of commercial companies, which now allows foreign investors to own 100 percent of their subsidiaries in the UAE.”