18 DECEMBER 2002
Malta and Maltese industry are to now have an on-the-spot presence in the Arabian Gulf with the recent opening of a Malta External Trade Corporation representative office in Dubai, which will be dubbed "The Malta Trade Center".
Economic Services Minister Josef Bonnici officially opened the office last Saturday, during which he explained, "This office marks a turning point in Maltas trade promotion activities in the Gulf and will act as a regional trade promotion office and to enhance the two way trade between Malta, the United Arab Emirates and its neighboring Gulf states including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar among others."
The Minister added that "The Malta Trade Centre is a joint initiative with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and is in line with the Governments declared intention of forging closing linkages between Maltese industry and the diplomatic corps."
Anthony S. Diacono Chairman of the Malta External Trade Corporation explained how the office, "Will serve as a focal point for those Maltese business people interested in doing business in this part of the world." He also emphasized how the office would be extremely useful as a first point of contact for those companies from the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states who are interested in doing business with Malta, Europe and North Africa."
The terms of reference of the office will not be restricted to the promotion of manufactured exports but will also cover the exports of services and will provide assistance to Maltese companies who are looking to establish a direct physical presence in Dubai. The Office will also provide advice and assistance to companies from the UAE and other Gulf states who are exploring the trade and investment opportunities offered by Malta.
The decision to open an office in Dubai was taken on the basis of the Gulf's import potential and the pivotal role that Dubai plays in acting as the major distribution and re-export centre in the Middle East. Dubai is undisputed major supplier to most adjacent Gulf states. An industry wide survey was also undertaken by METCO a few months ago in order to assess the level of interest in such an office on the part of Maltese companies. "It was the positive response from industry that finally green-lighted the project. We have set certain performance targets for the office in terms of members and increases in exports from Malta to the Gulf. If these are met, our operations there will be strengthened, if not, we will have to review the situation and act accordingly " added Mr Diacono.
During the launch, the Minister for Economic Services emphasised, "This is where much of the business in this part of the world is transacted. It is therefore important for us to be in a position to provide Maltese companies with in-market assistance. Indeed, it is rather difficult to provide Maltese exporters with the right kind of support in these markets without a physical presence there.
It comes as no surprise that many of Maltas competitors from Europe and Asia already have a presence in Dubai, and the only way we can help Maltese companies increase and maintain market share is by upgrading the level of our promotional support there". The Minister elaborated further and stated that "Once Malta Enterprise is up and running, this office will form part of the new organisations international network of offices. If we are to get more business in terms of trade and investment to Malta, we have to be closer to the markets we are seeking to penetrate."
The Dubai office will become fully operational in January 2003 and will serve as the focal point for the Corporation's regional trade promotion activities in the entire Gulf region. The Dubai Office will be modeled on the lines of METCOs highly successful office in Libya and will provide Maltese companies with practical, demand driven services designed to generate sales leads for Maltese companies that should lead to more exports to the Gulf.