U.S.-U.A.E. CEO Forum Holds Inaugural Meeting in Washington, D.C.

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The U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council launched the 'CEO Forum', a private sector initiative set to provide input to the bi-annual United States-United Arab Emirates Economic Policy Dialogue (EPD).

The U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council facilitated the first meeting of the CEO Forum at an exclusive working dinner on Monday, on the eve of the United States-United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) Economic Policy Dialogue (EPD) meeting in Washington, D.C. Senior U.S. and U.A.E. diplomatic leaders that attended the dinner included U.A.E. Assistant Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs His Excellency Khalid Al Ghaith, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Jose W. Fernandez, U.S. Ambassador to the U.A.E. Michael Corbin, and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.A.E. Embassy in Washington, D.C. His Excellency Omar Al Shamsi.

The closed-door program featured interaction between the government members of the EPD and the business community. The event constituted the launch of new “CEO Forum” initiative and was held at the W Hotel, attracting senior government officials and business executives from both countries. At the dinner, CEO Forum members, including U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council Co-Chairs General Electric and Mubadala, agreed to the establishment of working groups and a monthly teleconference that will allow business and industry to raise issues regularly between the bi-annual meetings of the EPD.

"The opportunity for business and government decision-makers to meet face to face and candidly discuss policy issues related to U.S.-U.A.E. trade and commerce is crucial to advancing the already strong economic ties between the two countries," said H.E. Al Ghaith.

“The U.S.-U.A.E. Economic Policy Dialogue is a key government-to-government initiative that MoFA and State launched in 2011 to raise the commercial profile of the diplomatic relationship between the two countries,” said Fernandez. “The substantive and enlightening discussion that we had tonight will undoubtedly advance tomorrow’s meetings, and allow our governments to take private sector input into account when crafting a bilateral policy agenda for the next six months.”

During the off-the-record dinner discussion led by Danny Sebright, President of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council, government officials and senior business executives exchanged thoughts on enhancing U.S.-U.A.E. trade flows for closer policy coordination between the two nations in a number of key sectors. Areas of health care, defense offsets, foreign direct investment, and human capital development were addressed at dinner, as were specific business facilitation issues facing companies in both countries. A key goal of these efforts is further boosting the trade and economic relationship - already close to 40% ahead of the pace of last year’s record U.S.-U.A.E. trade numbers.

“Designating the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council as the Executive Agent in facilitating the CEO Forum's business-to-government interaction prior to these bi-annual meetings has consistently delivered a clear private sector voice to the policy conversation between two key trade and strategic partners,” said Sebright added. “With active participation of AmCham Abu Dhabi and ABC Dubai - as well as the Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah Chambers of Commerce - this CEO Forum is well on its way to effectively representing the business interests of the U.S.-U.A.E. relationship.”

The event included a comprehensive roundup of potential “next steps” proposed by business leaders to government officials aimed at advancing the trade and economic relationship between the two countries. In charting the way forward, members of the newly established CEO Forum confirmed their interest in and intention to work through existing business-to-government issues, cultivate public-private relationships, and lay out recommendations for the next government-to-government meeting of the EPD set for March 2014. The issues discussed ranged from broader international trade and investment to specific economic policies affecting the pace and efficiency of frameworks underpinning U.S.-U.A.E. commerce.

“As U.S. Ambassador to the U.A.E., advocating on behalf of increased U.S.-U.A.E. business is one of my main priorities,” said Ambassador Corbin. “Since launching the EPD, we have already seen clear evidence that building a strong rapport between government officials and key members of the private sector opens doors for increased bilateral trade and investment between the U.S. and U.A.E.”

Sebright concluded the meeting with a message of gratitude to the government delegations and business executives for their insights, substantive engagement, and commitment to the CEO Forum’s agenda.

Furthermore, all participants offered their sincere best wishes to Assistant Secretary Jose W. Fernandez as he steps down from his government post this week.


About the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council:

The U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council is a progressive business advocacy organization solely committed to the advancement of the trade and commercial relationship between the United States and the United Arab Emirates. The U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council provides its diverse membership unparalleled access to senior decision makers in business and government in the U.A.E. and in the U.S. The Business Council actively works to ensure that the U.S. and U.A.E. remain attractive destinations for foreign direct investment by conducting effective policy advocacy, undertaking various trade promotion initiatives, providing ongoing updates on the business climate in both countries, and helping develop strategic relationships between U.S. and U.A.E. business and government officials.

For more information, visit http://www.usuaebusiness.org.

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Brian Principato
U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council
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