H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, stressed the U.A.E.'s interest in developing relations with the Republic of Portugal to reflect the ambitions and directives of both countries' leaders in a way that serves the common objectives and interests in the areas of politics, economy, trade, investment and health.
Sheikh Abdullah made the remarks yesterday while chairing the first ministerial meeting of the U.A.E.-Portuguese Joint Committee, held in Abu Dhabi. The Portuguese side was headed by the country's Deputy Prime Minister Paulo Portas. Among others present were Sheikha Najla Al Qasimi, U.A.E.'s Ambassador to Portugal, and a number of senior officials from both countries.
Welcoming the Portuguese Deputy Prime Minister and the delegation accompanying him, Sheikh Abdullah thanked them for their visit to Abu Dhabi to attend the first meeting of the U.A.E.-Portuguese Joint Committee. He hoped for fruitful resolutions that would further push forward the bilateral relations between the two countries.
The U.A.E. Foreign Minister expressed his satisfaction at the growth of relations, noting that the ties have been keeping pace with the latest developments to achieve the basic interests of both friendly peoples. He added that the U.A.E. and Portugal enjoy distinguished historic relations, adding that the holding of the first meeting yesterday "reiterates our commitment to strengthen the bilateral relations, exchange views on issues of mutual concern, implement joint venture projects that could benefit the two sides, explore more opportunities in the areas of investment and come up with proposals to overcome any obstacles that can hamper the development of relations." Sheikh Abdullah said the volume of trade exchange between the two countries stood at $200 million in 2013, adding that "this meeting is a chance for us to explore more ways to increase this." He stressed the importance of private sector in this respect.
He said over 20 Portuguese companies are represented in the U.A.E., while over 500 Portuguese companies operate directly in the U.A.E. market, noting that the U.A.E. companies are eyeing the Portuguese market to strike partnerships with their Portuguese counterparts in a way that promotes the bilateral relations and achieves the joint interest of the two countries.
The U.A.E. Foreign Minister said the cooperation ties between the two countries have been growing steadily, stressing on the need to enhance coordination between the two sides in the international organisations, conferences, and mutual support of nominations made by each side.
He underscored that the U.A.E. has unique prerogatives in terms of strategic location, advanced infrastructure and easy implementation of projects. "I call upon Portuguese companies and businesspersons to benefit from these strengths that the U.A.E. economy enjoys." Sheikh Abdullah noted that the two countries are connected by seven weekly flights of Emirates Airlines, and called for increasing cooperation in the field of aviation to address obstacles that the national carriers face, by signing an open spaces agreement.
He called for implementation of the agreements, especially in the areas of economy and investment, as well as ensuring investment opportunities to businesspersons and national companies interested to invest in both countries through exchange of official visits at the level of senior officials of private and public sectors in both countries, setting up of business councils and focusing on more future opportunities.
Sheikh Abdullah stressed the need for the joint committee to continue its work and follow up on its resolutions, thanking the heads and members of the preparatory committee for their efforts to make the meeting successful. He expressed the hope that the next meeting will be convened in Lisbon.
On his part, the Portuguese Deputy Prime Minister said the volume of trade exchange between the two countries has been increasing, and that there were cooperation opportunities between the two countries. He welcomed the U.A.E. investments in Portugal, noting that his country will do whatever it takes to strengthen the bilateral relations.