When in the spring of 2013 an Andorran delegation visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) headed by the Minister of Tourism and Foreign Affairs, the Director of Tourism in Andorra and the President of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services as well as a full of hope group of Andorra professionals and entrepreneurs, we could not imagine that it would be the prelude to the development of relations between the two countries that would culminate with the signature of an agreement to avoid double taxation as happened the last 28 July, when Minister of Foreign Affairs of the UAE, the sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nayhan, visited Andorra and where, among other authorities, met with his counterpart, our Foreign Minister Gilbert Saboya – active participant in the expedition of 2013- to proceed so this signing of an agreement as to the promotion and reciprocal protection of investments.
That expedition allowed us to get a first idea that the prosperity of the UAE was not a chance. Beyond their financial resources, that has and many, this country has shown a great vision for the medium and long term development and has designed an strategy of development perfectly tailored to their possibilities and to the new times.
The UAE is an international benchmark in some aspects that deserve to be highlighted. Beyond being the 7th world largest producer of oil, has managed to obtain a great performance to its strategic location between Africa, Europe and Asia. And for example, Dubai Airport has become a hub for air traffic of high magnitude, having received last year more than 70 million travelers and even beating a flagship airport in Europe as Heathrow. The number of visitors demonstrates its great prosperity in the tourism sector as well as in the business world.
In this regard, there seems to be a possible alliance with Russia in view to develop a new hub in Cuba to boost air links with South American countries.
However, from an environmental level, that country boosted long ago an ambitious research plan in renewable energy that has become a world leader, because on one hand, has promoted the creation of a city completely energy sustainable known as Masdar (www.masdar.ae) in Abu Dhabi, a true smart city of energy efficiency, and on the other hand, also in Abu Dhabi is situated the permanent headquarter of the International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA, which currently has membership from over 120 countries, where hopefully Andorra will soon also be incorporated, motivated by the obvious interest of our country for the development of renewable energies.
In our visit in 2013, we already could see that the strategy for attracting foreign investment was very effective, particularly with the creation of “Free Zones” (www.uaefreezones.com), tax-free zones for foreign investors, especially for companies engaged in international trading and services in general. In fact, we could see set up a multiplicity of first level international brands, all of them taking advantage of the tax benefits of these zones.
Andorra has also believed in the creation of specific advantages to develop international trading, with exemptions of up to 80% of Corporate Tax. (www.investwithandorra.com).
Of course not everything is perfect in this paradise where there must be carried out obvious improvements in a social level. However, the UAE is a country that has known very much to care its international relations and it is a clear example of successful in economic diplomacy, with important allies worldwide. However, apart from investint in their own country, has developed an ambitious international expansion plan that has carried to invest in a multiplicity of countries, including Spain.
And with all this, which role Andorra has to play in these newly established relationships with the UAE? Despite the clear differences between the two states, we are uniting under a common virtue: both are sovereign states strategically located, one in Europe between two major countries and other in the Persian Gulf. For Andorra this important area sited in the well middle of everything that moves internationally has to be a motivation to be present. UAE is a golden opportunity to Andorra to consolidate its presence in a key location in the Europe of the future. To all this, it is added the simple fact of being allies in international organizations, which also count on, or the possibility to develop joint initiatives in areas such as the aforementioned energy efficiency.
In this regard, our government seems determined to use the new paths that offer the economic diplomacy incorporating in the Embassies of Spain and France business assistants with the clear mission to attract investment to Andorra as well as provide facilities to Andorran employers wishing to develop new initiatives in these areas.
Andorra wants to take advantage of the international relations that gradually is developing and go sowing seeds in the different territories where we strengthen ties by means of a physical presence and an effective action on Andorra’s behalf. And why not after the CDI, a diplomatic representation or an office of Andorra economic development in the UAE? Surely we would know to take accrual of a promotional structure aimed to promote the relations of Andorra even with other Gulf countries.
Attention with Andorra, citizens of the world! It seems clear that is emerging a new jurisdiction that can be a great positive surprise in the coming years. I invite you to know it thoroughly!
President Augé Grup