The UAE Minister of Economy, Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, emphasized during a meeting with Ambassadors of the European Union (EU) the importance of enhancing economic relations and mutual trade between the UAE and the EU countries by taking advantage of the numerous investment opportunities available. He mentioned that the UAE's future economic policy will focus on tourism, industry, trade and innovations which are vital areas in building knowledge based economy. The minister met with 18 EU ambassadors, including Elpidoforos Economou, the Cyprus Ambassador to the UAE. Cyprus is currently holding the presidency of the EU. During the meeting, Al Mansoori emphasized that tourism, industry, trade and innovation will receive the maximum focus for their role in establishing a sustainable economy and maintaining the strong economic position of the UAE. "Tourism will be an important sector for us in the future and this will include family tourism and regional tourism as the UAE possesses an excellent infrastructure to reinforce this sector through its national carriers, strong hospitality sector and the new city announced recently by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai," he said. Industry and trade are other significant sectors and efforts will be made to enhance investments in these areas. The UAE can play an important role in petrochemicals, aluminum and steel industries and looks forward to enhancing cooperation with the EU in boosting these industries, especially considering that the UAE has the infrastructure to become a regional hub for exporting these metals besides leading the region in producing auto parts," he added. Trade is a key sector as it is closely associated with the UAE's strategic position and the role it can play to strengthen and activate the economic cycle between the European Union, East Africa, and the former Soviet Union countries. He noted that the UAE could be a vital link between the countries in these locations, boosting regional and international trade as well as the UAE National Economy. Innovation will be another priority area, and it will involve education development at all levels, including higher education and scientific research and stimulating innovation through the establishment of specialized centers in this area. The Minister stressed the importance of benefiting from the experience of the European Union in this regard, noting that the aim is not just to open specialized centers, but to promote scientific research to identify global best practices. Stating that the trade relations between the EU and the UAE have grown and evolved considerably over the past years, He noted that the volume of trade exchange during the first half of the year 2012 reached around AED 74.397 billion. In 2011, this figure was about AED 146.772 billion, and in 2007 around AED 111.555 billion. He urged the EU nations to remove the obstacles that affect the flow of trade between the two parties, noting that the imposition of an additional fee on UAE products by Brussels, which preceded charges on plastic products as well as carbon taxing on national carriers, is not in line with the ambitions of developing future trade relations between the two parties. Al Mansoori highlighted the importance of further coordination to modify these procedures to avoid a situation that could lead the UAE to take retaliatory action to protect its products. The UAE is currently working on a number of laws with regards to small and medium enterprises, intellectual property rights and foreign investment, which, once approved, will inevitably enhance the business atmosphere in the UAE. The UAE GDP growth reached 4.1% in 2011 and is expected to reach 4.5% by the end of the current year.