The Minister of Foreign Trade Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi has stressed that the UAE had succeeded in building strong commercial and economic ties and successful partnerships with a large number of countries worldwide. The UAE’s efforts towards building strong relations with all parties, coupled with its strong economy, efforts to diversify its economy and well-established non-oil sectors, are crucial to the country’s overcoming of the global financial crisis and achieving strong economic results, Al Qassimi said in speech at the opening session of the Arab Australian Forum in Sydney. The Minister added that the UAE had adopted a liberalised trade policy that is open to global markets. “The UAE, continues to seek to remove trade barriers and strengthen its relations with many countries,” she said pointing out that the UAE also provides highly advanced logistical services that have contributed to making it one of the world’s main re-exporters. Shaikha Lubna commended the Arab Australian Chamber of Commerce for their role in strengthening relations between the Arab world and Australia, and between the UAE and Australia in particular through organizing such forums and other activities that increase communication between the two sides. She further said that Arab-Australian commercial relations have been strengthening in many areas, pointing out that relations between the UAE and Australia have been on the forefront in this regard, calling for exploring new avenues of cooperation that would strengthen them even further. Trade between the UAE and Australia grew by 22 per cent from 2010-2011 reaching $2.6 billion, $93 million of which were exports (up by 25 per cent), $143 million re-exports (up by 88 per cent) and $2,440 imports (up by 20 per cent). On the sidelines of the Forum, Lubna held talks with the Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese that centered on developing bilateral trade ties between the two countries. Minister Albanese briefed Sheikha Lubna and her accompanying delegation, which included UAE Ambassador in Australia and New Zealand, Nasser Al Nuaimi, Juma Al Kait, the Assistant Undersecretary of Foreign Trade Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Trade as well as senior representatives of the Khalifa Fund, Kizad and other UAE entities, on Australia’s development plans and on the strengthening relations between the two countries. They also discussed cooperation in industrial sectors and the current state of the ongoing FTA negotiations between the GCC and Australia. Over 15 thousand Australians currently live in the UAE and more than 300 Australian companies have operations in the country. Lubna and her accompanying delegation also visited the Sydney Municipality Building, which is fully powered by renewable energy and the Parliament building in Sydney, where they met with Barry Robert O’Farrell MP and Premier of New South Wales and conducted an official tour of the building.