UK - UAE Corridor

A growing trade relationship
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The UAE-UK trade relationship is going from strength to strength. British companies are being encouraged to seek new investments in the UAE, and UAE investors are in turn looking at fresh business opportunities in a post-Brexit world.

The UAE is the largest recipient of UK foreign direct investment in the Middle East North Africa and Turkey (MENAT) region. UK foreign direct investment in the UAE grew to U.S.$8.3 billion by the end of 2017, compared to US$3.2 billion in 2013. Key areas of investment include education, energy, infrastructure, healthcare, renewables and financial and professional services.

Following a period of diversification, the UAE has become a major regional trading and tourism hub and provides a gateway to the Middle East’s most important economic centres. "We have the most remarkable transformation in history happening here today, in the Middle East, over US$2 trillion infrastructure spend, and with some of the events happening, the eyes of the world are on the Middle East today" said Daniel Howlett (Regional Head of Commercial Banking, Middle East, North Africa and Turkey).

Instrumental in the establishment of a banking sector across the MENAT region1, and with Headquarters of the HSBC Group in London, HSBC is uniquely placed to help UK businesses make the most of opportunities that exist between the UK and the UAE.

Get in touch with us today to find out how HSBC can help you access opportunities between the UK and the UAE

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Watch how HSBC can support subsidiaries of international

Watch our UK Desk Head, Kristina, meet key clients, colleagues and stakeholders to discuss opportunities for UK businesses in the UAE.

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Total bilateral trade reached £10.37 billion (US$13.5 billion) in 2018, according to the UK Office for National Statistics2. The first half of 2019 saw trade between the two nations rise to £5.49 billion (US$7.16 billion) up from £5.11 billion (US$6.60 billion) in the corresponding period last year3.

Key UK exports to the UAE include mechanical power generators, cars, consumer manufactured products, scientific products and beverages. The UK is a major importer of refined oil, mechanical power generators, metals and non-ferrous metals from the UAE.

The UAE is the UK’s 18th-largest trading partner, 14th-largest export market and 20th-largest import market. In addition, more than 5,000 British blue-chip companies, including HSBC Holdings Plc, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd and BAE Systems Plc, have operations in the UAE. There are nearly 800 commercial agencies and 4,800 British brands invested in UAE, and more than 100,000 UK citizens living in the Gulf state.

The UK Pavilion under construction for Expo 2020 Dubai underscores the progressive trade relationship between the two countries, with many UK companies supporting the development and construction of Expo 2020 Dubai4 5. The UK pavilion is inspired by the late British scientist Stephen Hawking, who asked how humanity could express itself to an extraterrestrial civilisation, the pavilion explores everything from the commercialisation of space to artificial intelligence. HSBC is a founding partner of the UK pavilion.


UK companies are drawn to the UAE because of its world-class logistics and connections, and its ability to serve as a strong base for the emerging markets of Africa, Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia.

Over the past few years, the UAE has unveiled a number of economic reforms, including long-term residency visas, drastic cuts in licensing and business fees to attract companies.

The UK’s Department of International Trade (DIT) is encouraging British companies to secure new business and investment opportunities in the UAE. The new sectors – including renewable energy, space, aerospace, fintech and artificial intelligence – are areas where UK companies already enjoy strong advantages.

The DIT is also looking to attract UAE investors to new opportunities available in the UK, on the back of the country’s departure from the European Union in January 2020. UAE investors have already contributed £1.5 billion (US$1.96 billion) from Dubai Ports World to the London Gateway port6, and in 2014 Masdar invested £1.5 billion (US$1.96 billion) in an offshore wind farm in Eastern England7.


HSBC is playing a key role in developing the MENAT-UK trade corridor, by facilitating trade and investment and offering business and financing advice to boost ties between the two regions.

In 2018, the DIT announced a plan to increase UK total exports as a proportion of GDP to 35 percent, from a current 30 percent. The new strategy aimed to promote export-ready companies, connect them with MENAT customers and provide financing opportunities.

“We export more to the Gulf region than China, and three times more than we do to India,” said Simon Penny8, the UK’s trade commissioner for the Middle East.

With British companies looking to forge trade partners and boost businesses in a post-Brexit world, the UAE is a viable launch pad to set in motion a MENAT-wide business growth plan.

HSBC is ideally positioned to provide you with visibility and control over your global financial position and help optimise your finances. From consolidating bank accounts to leveraging the company’s global credit position in subsidiaries around the world, HSBC’s International Subsidiary Banking teams can deliver compelling benefits to both parent companies and their subsidiaries, helping to facilitate growth.

“Our purpose is to support overseas subsidiaries of our clients to deliver their strategic and operational aims. We are a core part of HSBC’s strategy to connect our customers with opportunities globally” quotes Kyle Boag, Head of International Subsidiary banking, HSBC MENAT.

HSBC Middle East regularly organises roadshows to promote the Gulf region in the UK and other regions.

Get in touch with us today to find out how HSBC UAE can help you and your business thrive.

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Other videos

The attractive nature of the Middle East market

Learn why there is a huge global focus on the Middle East from the Regional Head of Commercial banking.

Sizing up the opportunities for UK businesses in the region

Hear from Her Majesty's Trade Commissioner for the Middle East about the size of the opportunities for UK businesses in the region.

Key considerations from the Education sector

Hear from Birmingham University about what it takes to start and grow from the UAE.

Building for long-term success in the Middle East.

Hear from Mott MacDonald about their experiences of being in the region for over a century.

Serving businesses looking at growing in the Middle East

Learn what can HSBC do for businesses seeking to expand in the region.

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