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Clean energy and tech power UAE-Scotland trade

Clean energy and tech driving UAE-Scotland trade Scottish Development International
A UK-GCC trade deal could boost the Scottish economy by more than £270 million, according to UK government estimates
  • Non-oil trade between UAE and Scotland worth $870m in 2022
  • UK-GCC trade deal could boost Scottish economy by over £270m
  • UAE is currently Scotland’s 12th biggest export market

It’s a long way from the icy waters of the North Sea to the saline depths of the Straits of Hormuz, but the world’s first offshore floating wind farm is proof of a burgeoning arrangement between Scotland and the UAE.

Masdar, the UAE’s government-owned clean energy company, has a 25 percent stake in the 30 megawatt Hywind Scotland project.

Located 29 kilometres off Peterhead on the north coast of the country, the wind farm supplies electricity to around 6,600 houses.

“As our demand for renewable energy grows, these kinds of partnerships will only deepen and expand,” said Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, minister of state for foreign trade, following a call with Neil Gray, Scotland’s cabinet secretary for wellbeing economy, fair work and energy.

Scotland’s international trade and investment agency, Scottish Development International (SDI), has offices in more than 30 locations around the world, including Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

James Keating, country director of SDI, said 25 companies from Scotland had been brought out to showcase at Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference in October last year.

“We’re seeing a lot of companies, especially in the hydrogen and low carbon space,” Keating said. “They’re bringing their expertise from the North Sea and transferring that into the renewables and decarbonising space.”

High growth sectors such as clean energy, as well as food production and advanced technology, are driving increased trade between the UAE and Scotland.

Latest figures show non-oil trade between the two countries increased 70 percent in 2022 to reach $870 million.

Scotland accounted for almost 9 percent of the UK’s total exports to the UAE and 5 percent of the UK’s total imports from the country.

The UK and GCC are deep into negotiations over a free trade deal, which could boost the Scottish economy by more than £270 million, according to UK government estimates.

“Reduced tariffs could help us export more great Scottish produce, getting beef reared in Aberdeenshire onto supermarket shelves in Abu Dhabi,” Malcolm Offord, minister for Scotland in the UK government, previously told AGBI.

Tariffs that could be slashed include cereals, which is currently taxed at up to 25 percent; chocolate, up to 15 percent; baking products, up to 12 percent; sweet biscuits, up to 10 percent; and smoked salmon, which has a 5 percent tariff.

According to a report on state-run news agency Wam, on their latest call Al Zeyoudi and Gray discussed the Ministry of Economy’s NextGenFDI programme and the market-access benefits it could lend to Scottish companies in fields such as robotics and fintech.

The initiative was launched by the UAE government in July 2022 and aims to attract 300 digitally-enabled companies that focus on advanced technology applications in various sectors.

Emtelle, a manufacturer of pre-connectorized blown fibre cable in the Scottish Borders, broke ground in April on a new facility in the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad), one of the region’s largest integrated commercial and industrial centres linked to Khalifa Port.

Tony Rodgers, group chief executive of Emtelle, told AGBI the new facility will give the company “the manufacturing space needed to ramp up our capacity in the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific marketplace and meet the huge demand from our customers for our products”.

The UAE is Scotland’s 12th biggest export market, not including oil and gas, centred predominantly on tourism, food and drink, engineering and manufacturing. 

Food and drink exports from Scotland to the UAE increased 76 percent year-on-year to over $183 million in 2022.