Pipeline Magazine spoke exclusively to the UAE’s Danish Ambassador Merete Juhl to learn more about Denmark’s energy trade relationships with the UAE and why ADIPEC is important for Danish companies.
How do you see the current Danish-UAE trade relationship?
The UAE was Denmark’s 29th largest trading partner of goods in 2015. Furthermore, with its location as the hub between Europe, Asia and Africa, it is of high strategic importance to Denmark. From 2014 to 2015, the export of goods from Denmark to UAE rose by more than 20 per cent to a value of 1.7 billion AED. This is a strong signal of the growing demand for Danish products and know-how. The largest export group to the UAE is industrial machinery, which is valued at ca. 250 million AED. This is more than double that of pharmaceuticals, which constitute another major Danish export group. Our trading relationship with UAE is built on solid foundations and continues to expand as the UAE diversifies its economy. We are now trading across a range of sectors such as sustainability, aviation, healthcare, food & beverage, ICT and many more.
Could you talk about how the Danish embassy in the UAE can facilitate Danish-UAE trade, particularly in the energy sector?
One of the best ways to promote Danish products is in my opinion through market visits. The Trade Council conducts a large amount of these visits every month across multiple sectors in the UAE. For the energy sector in particular, one of the main visits is of course the ADIPEC exhibition, but we also had a very successful delegation visit to Abu Dhabi in February this year, where the participating delegation met with some of the main stakeholders here. Furthermore, some Danish companies engage the Trade Council to set up targeted meeting programs, where we identify the potential customers or cooperation partners. Sometimes, we also receive requests locally from international or local companies that are searching for Danish products.
Can you talk more broadly about how you facilitate trade between the Middle East and Denmark?
The Trade Council (Eksportrådet) is the export promoting arm of Denmark’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They have around 300 employees world-wide, and for the Middle East and North Africa region, they have 14 advisors with key competencies in strategic locations. The services the Trade Council offers range from company set-ups, meeting programs, dispute resolutions to high level delegation visits and trade fairs. We currently have 7 advisors based in the UAE that are working on assisting Danish companies on various projects in the local markets across multiple sectors.
What opportunities do you see in the UAE energy sector for Danish companies?
The oil price recession has led to a strain on companies operating in this sector and capital expenditure budgets. As such, the focus now seems to be shifting towards lowering the operating costs (e.g. maintenance) and to prolonging the lifespan of equipment. Denmark is internationally known for high quality and reliability in products. As such, I firmly believe that the Danish companies can greatly benefit from the change in focus that we see in the industry now.
How important do you believe ADIPEC is for Danish companies exhibiting?
For many years, the Danish Export Association, in cooperation with the Danish Embassy to UAE and the Trade Council in Dubai, has coordinated a pavilion at the ADIPEC exhibition. As is common knowledge, the region is driven by contacts and personal network, and there is no better place for networking than ADIPEC. Here, the stakeholders from the industry, not only in the UAE, but regionally, come together for a whole week. And it is very easy to approach people and to make connections. We have examples of several Danish companies that have gone from being a first-time visitor in the past to now being established in Abu Dhabi, selling their products.
Can Denmark provide oil and gas producers in the Gulf region with any knowledge sharing?
Denmark is known as the happiest nation in the world. Further, we are a small nation that has prospered through trade and innovation. The proximity to the North Sea oil fields has made Denmark the leading nation on the development of products and services for the energy industry. I believe that this - combined with the ability to always think green and sustainably - can contribute to the region with knowledge in many fields, such as energy efficiency and sustainability in the energy sector.
This interview first appeared in the November issue of Pipeline Magazine