Complex Made Simple

UAE-Canada trade ties improve after aviation row

Bilateral trade has surged 53% in 2013

The UAE-Canada ties have come a long way since the 2010 aviation row, sparked by Ottawa’s denial of more landing rights to Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline.

Currently, the two nations are working toward strengthening their relationship and, as a result, bilateral trade surged by 53 per cent in 2013 to AED9.2 billion, when compared with AED6bn in 2012.

Prior to the 2010 diplomatic clash, the UAE and Canada shared fairly decent political and trade relations. Etihad Airways and Emirates Airlines wanted to increase flights to Canadian cities, pointing out that some 25,000 Canadians and 200 Canadian firms operate in the UAE. However, Air Canada argued that UAE airlines were aiming to steal away connecting passengers that help make its routes profitable. As a result, the UAE government decided to end access to a military base used by the Canadian military to support troops in Afghanistan and also stopped its visa waiver program for Canadians from January 2, 2011. Canadians required pre-approved visas before boarding flights to the UAE.

However, things took a positive turn in April 2013, when UAE’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, met with his Canadian counterpart, John Baird. Visa restrictions on Canadians were lifted soon after the meeting of government officials last month.

John McAllister, a Canadian, who works as an investment banker at the Dubai International Financial Centre, has been living in the UAE for the past 10 years with his wife and two children. “My mother visits us in Dubai every year from Montreal. During the visa restriction period, she had to postpone or cancel her visit at least once. I am really happy that the two governments have sorted their issues amicably. I know many Canadian families that were affected as result of this diplomatic row.”

In 2009, from the business perspective, trade between the UAE and Canada stood at $1.2bn, while, last year, it shot up to $2.5bn. Dubai’s foreign trade with Canada scored a 61 per cent growth in Q1 2014 to reach AED2bn, up from AED1.3bn for the same period in 2013, says Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Chairman of Dubai’s Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation.

Bin Sulayem explored stronger co-operation with Ed Fast, Canadian Minister of International Trade, as part of the current official visit of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Canada. During the meeting in western port city of Vancouver, Bin Sulayem spoke about the role of DP World in supporting the performance of the Vancouver Port by managing a major container terminal, which is considered a main gate for trade between markets in Canada, Asia and the Indian Ocean.

DP World-Vancouver terminal is located in the inner harbor of downtown Vancouver and is a key gateway port for the Trans-Pacific Trades between Asia and the Pacific North West. In addition to serving the local market of British Columbia, DP World Vancouver provides direct daily intermodal rail connection to the important markets of Eastern Canada and the US Mid West, covered by both Canadian Pacific and Canada National Railway.