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Sheikha Lubna hopes to sign FTA with US soon

Emirates Business 24/7, UAE

Sheikha Lubna hopes to sign FTA with US soon

By Abdel Hai Mohamed

29 April 2008

Minister of Foreign Trade Sheikha Lubna Al Qassimi said on Tuesday that she hoped the UAE would soon sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with the US.

She said agreements signed by GCC countries with other countries supported and did not conflict with the Gulf Common Market, which was launched at the beginning of 2008. Bahrain and Oman have recently signed FTAs with the US.

Sheikha Lubna said the UAE has an attractive investment environment for foreign and Gulf capital. Last year the country attracted overseas investment worth $80bn (Dh293bn).

"The UAE tops the region in attracting this investment due to the huge growth seen in all business sectors, the availability of financial liquidity and government steps to provide stability for businessmen and companies. The government has taken measures to deal with problems resulting from growth, especially inflation," she said.

Sheikha Lubna was speaking at a discussion session organised by the Financial Times at the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi to mark the launch of the UK business paper’s Middle East edition.

Khaldon Khalifa Al Mubarak, a member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and CEO and Managing Director of the Mubadala Development Company, said inflation was on the rise in the UAE and was one of the biggest challenges the Federal and Abu Dhabi Governments faced.

He said the dirhams’ peg to the dollar had contributed to high inflation but added the Federal Government’s decision not to lift the peg was right.

"We have to look at the long term, not the short term," he said. "We had good days with the dollar and were happy. I think the decline of the dollar will not continue and it will recover within six months."