US Envoy optimistic about 4-5% growth to $25bln bilateral trade with UAE

Exclusive interview at his residence in Abu Dhabi

  
Image used for illustrative purpose. DP World joins with Tradelens, a blockchain-based digital container logistics platform jointly developed by A.P. Moller - Maersk and IBM, to digitise global supply chains. Image courtesy Dubai Media Office Twitter handle.

Image used for illustrative purpose. DP World joins with Tradelens, a blockchain-based digital container logistics platform jointly developed by A.P. Moller - Maersk and IBM, to digitise global supply chains. Image courtesy Dubai Media Office Twitter handle.

By Binsal Abdulkader ABU DHABI- The US-UAE Strategic Dialogue, new opportunities brought by the current health situation and peace accords in the region will help grow bilateral economic and trade relations exponentially, according to a top US diplomat.

The ambassador has also explained that space and human rights will get special attention and boost within the new bilateral strategic initiative, the US-UAE Strategic Dialogue.

Opportunities brought by the current pandemic "I think COVID-19 brings all kinds of new opportunities for us to advance the growth, not only for our bilateral relationships, which is very strong as we already trade about US$25 billion a year, [but across the region also]," he said in an exclusive interview at his residence in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

The UAE, through its investments, has helped create about 120,000 jobs in the United States, Rakolta pointed out.

"And what COVID-19 has done is to allow us to advance more quickly the need to grow the markets, not only between the two of us, but here overall in the Middle East," he said.

"And I think that this blends in perfectly with the Abrahamic Accords, which is really offering a look forward to peace, prosperity for not only the citizens of Israel and the UAE, but also citizens of the greater Middle East. The potential here is enormous." Annual trade Asked about whether there are any particular targets to achieve in the bilateral economic and trade relations, the ambassador said, "The normal growth rate in the world is about two percent in good times or two to three percent. If we could get four or five percent growth rate, we would be doing very, very well. It will create a lot of new jobs and incomes would go up. People would see the benefits of not only the Strategic Dialogue [between the UAE and US], but the peace accords also," he explained.

"And this is the whole intention to bring a better life for everybody," the envoy stressed.

Asked whether he is optimistic about achieving four to five percent growth in the US-UAE bilateral trade, Rakolta said, "Yes, I think we have just an incredible moment in history right now, that is going to allow us to advance this in a much, much better way and to distribute this wealth much more broadly across the region, so that everybody has this kind of opportunity." He added, "We have to stop looking back. We have to reject violence and look forward to peace and prosperity." US-UAE Strategic Dialogue The US-UAE Strategic Dialogue, which was launched on Tuesday, recognises the strength of a bilateral relationship that has developed over the last 50 years, the ambassador said.

"We are strategically aligned in many, many areas ... broadly partners in defence and intelligence sharing, in counterterrorism, culture, the economy, trade, investment, space, human rights. The list goes on and on and so on," he explained.

The Strategic Dialogue also appreciates that "we already are really good partners and we want to continue to advance our relationship, our friendship, our partnership for decades to come, not just for one year or two years, but for many, many, many years." The initiative, which is led by senior government officials from both countries, provides a framework to discuss cooperation in eight areas: political partnership; security cooperation; law enforcement and border security; intelligence and counterterrorism; human rights; economic, energy, and commercial partnership; cultural and academic exchanges; and space partnership.

Space and human rights Talking about cooperation with the UAE in space, the ambassador said, "Our partnership with space is only a few years old. And space represents a real adventure for mankind. There will be the commercialisation of space and you need partners that are technologically advanced, that have strong education systems, lots of engineers and interest in society." He added, "And so this is one area where the United States and the UAE will be able to advance our already strong partnership in a very, very fast way." Regarding human rights, he said, "We both share the desire to see all people treated equally. And both of our countries have made a lot of progress.

But we still have a ways to go. And with this Dialogue and the ability to speak openly, frankly and honestly will allow us to advance these human rights issues in a way that we haven't been able to do so before." More countries to join Abraham accords The United Arab Emirates has been a fabulous country in not only accomplishing and achieving the Abrahamic Accords and the Strategic Dialogue, but for many more things for future generations, Rakolta said.

"We are living in a very, very exciting time. And I have all the hope and confidence in the world that we're going to have great success," he said.

Rakolta revealed that more Arab countries will follow the UAE in recognising Israel. "I am sure that we are going to see over the next weeks and months more countries joining this, because it's going to help their citizens through peace and prosperity." He did not want to name these countries. "It is actually in the best interests of the countries to announce it themselves. And when it does occur, it's very historic," the ambassador said with an optimistic smile.

Gulf crisis Rakolta also mentioned the US efforts to solve the Gulf crisis.

"The Gulf rift does not help anybody in the region. It is a detriment to moving peace and prosperity forward. We are all brothers. This needs to be solved quickly, efficiently, and we call upon all parties to come to the negotiating table and to solve the conflict as quickly as possible."

© Copyright Emirates News Agency (WAM) 2020.

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