Forty-five years ago New Zealand sent its first shipment of meat to the United Arab Emirates when cities like Dubai and the capital Abu Dhabi were still in their infancy. Now Dubai is a modern, advanced metropolis and as the city and wider Gulf region has grown so has New Zealand’s trading relationship with it.
While meat and dairy make up the bulk of our trade with the six countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman – New Zealand companies operating in the high-value food and beverage, technology, specialised manufacturing and services sectors are making their mark on the region.
Increasingly, New Zealand companies are seeing the Gulf region as an important part of their international business. And with Expo 2020 just two years away, now is the time for New Zealand businesses to be thinking about building a network and brand presence in the region and developing their Gulf strategy.
New Zealand Trade & Enterprise is holding its Gulf Opportunities Showcase in New Zealand in October. Businesses are invited to find out more about the dynamic Gulf region and learn how to make the most of Expo 2020 Dubai.
Changes in the Gulf mean opportunities for international business
The Gulf region is going through a period of unprecedented change at the moment. At the heart of this change is the need to reduce reliance on oil and gas through the development of technologically advanced and sustainable world-leading public and private sectors. The development taking place in this region is both physical – with massive infrastructure projects like Saudi Arabia’s USD500 billion mega city Neom – and social reforms like cinemas re-opening in Saudi Arabia after 35 years and women being allowed to drive.
The liberalisation of market access in the UAE and the need for Saudi Arabia to open up to greater external business creates immediate opportunities for New Zealand companies. For example, in training and education. With young and fast growing populations countries in the Gulf, particularly Saudi Arabia, need to upskill their workforce.
This region also has a preference for disruptive and innovative technologies, which plays to New Zealand’s strengths. Governments and enterprise in the GCC are looking for agile companies that can design solutions to address challenges like how to use artificial intelligence to support decision making in response to emergency situations.
Expo 2020 is a major catalyst for transformation not just in Dubai, but across the GCC. The expo site itself is transforming South Dubai into a 438 hectare mixed-use legacy project that will continue after Expo finishes in April 2021. But more broadly than that, the global business community will be coming to the Gulf and it’s an opportunity to position the region as a world leader.
NZ is a strong F&B partner
Like New Zealand, many Middle Eastern countries are grappling with the challenge of growing and diversifying their economies while protecting the environment’s natural resources for future generations. New Zealand is well regarded in the region for being a country that is successfully addressing this challenge with policies and initiatives like fishing quotas, national parks and investment in research and development to grow a diverse economy.
Our strength in food production makes us a suitable trading partner for the Gulf region. With only 1.5% of its land arable, and severe water scarcity, countries in the region import 90-95% of their food. While this trend is set to continue, countries in the GCC, particularly the UAE, are looking to New Zealand for expertise in growing and producing food in order to become more food secure.
Given the harsh climate and lack of fresh water, countries within the GCC are turning to aquaculture projects as a viable way to improve the region’s food security. New Zealand has an opportunity here to share our expertise in sustainable aquaculture and agritechnology.
New Zealand’s prime spot in the Sustainability district at Expo 2020 reinforces New Zealand’s value proposition as a country that offers considerable expertise and high-value goods and services produced in keeping with our sustainable ethos. The concept of kaitiakitanga – care for people and place – resonates with people in the Arabian peninsula.
Register for the Gulf Opportunities Showcase to find out more about this dynamic region. Hear from a range of speakers Beachheads advisors, experience New Zealand exporters and the NZTE team.