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Remarks by Holly Vineyard

Deputy Assistant Secretary for Africa, the Middle East and South Asia

Introduction of Saud Al-Nowais at
U.S.-UAE Business Council Luncheon
July 16, 2009

As prepared for delivery

Good afternoon. Thank you Danny for the invitation to be here with you today and to be here with my colleague from the UAE Embassy.   I am impressed by the work that the U.S.-UAE Business Council is doing to promote our bilateral commercial relationship through hosting events, matchmaking, and promoting pro-business policies between the United States and the UAE.

I want to welcome our guest of honor, Saud Al-Nowais, to Washington, D.C. We are very pleased that the UAE Government has chosen to place a full time Commercial Counselor in Washington, D.C. and to open a fully staffed Trade Office.  I firmly believe that Saud is the right person at the right time.  He has strong experience with the energy sector and was a key member of the team that lobbied for the UAE’s winning proposal to host the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in the UAE.  It will be the first international organization headquartered in the UAE – the first to go to any developing country,  I understand. 

There are some exciting opportunities on the horizon for U.S. firms in numerous sectors in the UAE.  We are particularly excited about the potential for U.S. firms to contribute to the development of the UAE’s civil nuclear program. 

We hope that U.S. firms will be allowed to contribute their world class expertise and technology to the development of the UAE’s civil nuclear power infrastructure just as they already do in so many other sectors across the Emirates.  As you know, U.S. firms, many in represented in this room, contribute to the following sectors in the UAE: health care and education, project management, energy, construction, civil aviation, franchising, and the list goes on.

Among all the tough economic news and data that we are seeing globally there is good news when it comes to the U.S.-UAE commercial relationship.  The UAE ranked as our 18th largest export market of 2009 through May, which is the timeframe for which we have 2009 trade data.  More importantly, U.S. exports to the UAE grew just over 5% when compared to the same five month time period last year.  During the first five months of the year, we saw positive growth from only two of our top 25 trading partners. 

Within the Department of Commerce, I serve in the Market Access and Compliance unit, where we monitor and ensure compliance with trade agreements that foreign governments have signed with the United States at the bilateral and multilateral levels.  We also look for ways to eliminate market access barriers to the benefit of U.S. firms’ goods and services.  While U.S. firms generally find the UAE a smooth market to operate in, we are here to help if problems arise there, or in any other global market.  My colleagues in the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service (US&FCS), who are based in 109 U.S. cities and 77 countries around the world, are there to help you do business as well.  They have a robust staff in Abu Dhabi and Dubai led by Laurie Farris and Bob Dunn, both of whom you should get to know.

Saud’s work will complement the efforts we are taking to promote U.S. goods and companies in the UAE as he works with both U.S. firms in the U.S. and Emirati firms looking to work in the U.S.  He will be a valuable source of market information and assistance in resolving problems.

I have encouraged Saud to visit Commerce Department staff in their offices throughout the United States and get to know them. They are tapped into thousands of U.S. firms, particularly small and medium sized enterprises that can contribute positively to the growth and technological development of the UAE.  I wish him well as he gets to know our firms and the expertise and talent they bring to the table.

Saud, we are glad to see that the U.S.-UAE relationship is growing even in the midst of a global downturn.  Please know that the door is always open to you at the U.S. Department of Commerce and we look forward to working with you in the coming months and years to further promote the U.S. – UAE commercial relationship.  With that, I would like to welcome Saud to the podium for some remarks.

Thank you.