Rising Chinese Factor in the Middle East

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(From L-R) Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Nizar Bin Obaid Madani, Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan and Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmad al-Khalifa pose for a group picture before the start of the 2nd Ministerial Joint Meeting for Strategic Dialogue between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and China in Abu Dhabi on May 2, 2011. Photo - Karim Sahib?/AFP/Getty Images

China is the second largest economy in the world and the UAEs second largest trade partner, with reportedly around 3,000 Chinese companies and a community of some 200,000 Chinese expats in the UAE.

It maintains strong political and economic links with Saudi Arabia and other members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and has become a key importer of oil. Some analysts suggest Chinese reliance on Gulf oil supplies is set to steadily increase in the coming years as the most populous nation on earth consumes ever increasing energy to fuel staggering economic growth.

Between 1999 and 2009, GCC-China trade jumped by at least 40 per cent annually to reach around $70 billion in 2008, including nearly $42 billion worth of oil exports by GCC countries and $28 billion worth of imports.

Saudi Arabia, the top oil supplier to China, has remained the largest trading partner of Beijing, with exports of around $31 billon and imports of $11 billion.

According to a report by Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU), China is expected to become GCC’s most important economic partner by 2020.

By 2009 the emerging-market share of GCC trade had reached 45 percent, according to the report, up from 15 percent in 1980, with an average of 11 percent per year growth, as the region looks to shift investments from developed to developing countries.

CANTON FAIR 2011

The UAE and China have stressed the importance of boosting trade, tourism and investment ties at the opening of Canton Fair 2011.

Abdullah Ahmed Saleh, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Trade, met with the Chinese Minister of Foreign Trade Affairs Luo Jiang at the sidelines of the 110 Canton Fair 2011, which was opened in Guangzhou on Monday.

Saleh is heading the UAE trade delegation to attend the fair, which will conclude on Thursday.

The Chinese minister welcomed the UAE official delegation, adding that the participation of the UAE in this international event reflects the extent of Abu Dhabi’s interest to enhance trade and economic ties with China, and strengthen relations between the exporters and importers of both countries.

Saleh said the UAE’s participation in the event comes within the framework of strengthening the relations between the two countries, indicating that his country will take taken part in similar exhibitions to be held in China.

Saleh said China ranks as second on the list of UAE’s foreign trade partners since 2003, and hoped that it tops the list of exporting countries to the UAE.

He expected the growth of volume of trade between the UAE and China by 24 per cent, citing the expansion in the trade exchanges and the economic growth.

Saleh said despite its small population, the UAE has strong economy, which ranks 18th in the international trade, and constitutes a portal for Chinese products to the Middle East and African countries.

He added that the Chinese Dragon Market at Emirates Mall has signed a contract to expand in the GCC and the Middle East.

For his part, the Chinese minister thanked the UAE delegation for participation in the event, adding that the relations between the two countries have witnessed growth in the recent years at the trade and tourism levels.

He added that the number of Chinese tourists who visit the UAE annually has risen to become 120,000 visitors annually, indicating that the number of Emirati tourists who visit China has risen too.

CAR IMPORTS

Nearly 3,000 Chinese-made cars will make a debut in Saudi Arabia in the next few days and agents expect strong demand for such price competitive vehicles, a newspaper in the Kingdom reported on Saturday.

Agents in the Middle East’s largest consumer market said they had already imported spare parts and established sufficient maintenance units for the cars, namely Geely and Geely Emgrand.

The 3,000 cars are the first batch of Chinese vehicles to be imported by the company, said Ali Hussein Riza, CEO of Hussein Riza company.

We expect strong demand for these cars because of their competitive price and the abundance of spare parts and maintenance services which have already been made available ahead of the arrival of the cars.

The good thing is that the Chinese cars are designed for the climate in Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf countries, he added.

For most UAE consumers, Japanese electronics products were always seen as reliable, durable and cost effective. Because of such characteristics, the sale of ‘Made in Japan’ products is still popular in the UAE. However, Chinese electronics products have gained traction in recent years.

Due to cheap prices and innovative fabrications Chinese consumer goods are rapidly dominating the UAE’s consumer electronics market, according to the analysis. There is an evident price squeeze in some product segments such as notebooks, which saw average selling cost plummeting by 25 per cent.

According to some estimates, China is currently leading the UAE consumer electronics market for toys, games, gadgets and DVD players. In addition to Japan and China, South Korea and Malaysia are some of the other countries who have increased their footholds in UAE’s consumer electronics market.

CHINESE RICH

In the world of self-made billionaire women, China is leading the way.

According to a recent report compiled by Hurun Report ranking Chinas wealthy, of the 28 self-made female billionaires around the world, 18 came from China. Of the top 10 self-made female billionaires, seven are Chinese. Surprisingly perhaps for some, USmedia mogulOprah Winfreybarely made it to the top ten, with her estimated $2.7 billion fortune putting her as the 8thrichest self-made woman in the world.

The richest self-made woman in the world is Wu Yajun, executive director of Longfor Properties Co. based in Chongqing municipality, with a net worth of 42 billion yuan ($6.6 billion). Yang Huiyan, of Country Garden Real Estate ranked as Chinas second richest woman and 10thrichest overall in China with a personal fortune of 36 billion yuan ($5.6 billion), followed by Chen Lihua of Fu Wah International, an industrial investment company, whose 33 billion yuan ($5.2 billion) fortune made her the third richest woman and the 16thrichest person in China.

Of the top five richest women in China, four attained their fortunes through the countrys blistering real estate market.

Rupert Hoogewerf, Chairman and Chief Research at Hurun, noted that there were probably many more billionaires in China who preferred to remain off the radar.

The cut-off for Huruns list of the top 1000 richest people in China continues to climb, with this years cut-off at $310 million, up from last years $220 million and $150 million in 2009.

Chinas rich have defied the global financial crisis with another record year of growth, said Hoogewerf.

Four of the top five richest women in China made their fortunes through the countrys blistering real estate market. The average wealth of the top 50 female billionaires in China was $1.5 billion, up 47% from two years ago. The fortunes of 33 women on this years top 50 were self-made rather than inherited, compared to 30 last year.

The number of billionaires in China has increased from 189 last year to 271. This puts the number of billionaires in China as second only to the US, which has more than 400. Some believe that there are probably more billionaires in China, however many prefer to remain off the radar.

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