Shaikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister of Foreign Trade has said that UAE always welcomed US companies and investments, referring to the vital role these companies are playing in the promotion of Emiratisation and transferring of latest technologies. She cited that UAE has succeeded in becoming a regional headquarter for a number of U.S based companies which look forward to expanding their operations in the region. During her meeting with Houston Mayor Annise Parker and a U.S trade delegation that included a number of heads of companies, representatives, investment and economic institutions, the UAE minister called investors and companies to expand partnership with their Emirati counterparts and exploit the opportunities and excellent business and trade environment in the country as well as benefitting from a market with a capacity of about 300 million people in the region. Sheikha Lubna reviewed with them, UAE trade policies including the successive developments witnessed in the field of foreign trade in the state. They also discussed the achievements made by the UAE in international trade thanks to its geographical location which proved as a cross road for the international trade between the West and the East. She added that despite the slowdown in the global economy, the UAE foreign trade has made a growth rate of 23% in 2011, four times greater than the growth rate of the global trade. For her part, Annise Parker affirmed the importance of the UAE as a strong trade partner for the United States, due to the historical relations between the two countries in the light of the increase of trade exchange between them, citing UAE as the first trade partner for the USA in the region. Abdullah Al Saleh, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Juma Al Kait, Assistant Undersecretary for Foreign Trade Affairs and a number of officials from the ministry attended the meeting.