Furrer takes reins at Swiss Consulate in Dubai and heads up Swiss Business Hub GCC to promote regional trade and investment as jewelry, watches, machinery and pharmaceuticals top AED 13 billion annual exports to UAE in 2013
Raymund Furrer has been appointed as the new Consul General of Switzerland in Dubai where, in addition to his new duties, he will also continue in his role as head of the Swiss Business Hub GCC, part of the Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE), Switzerland’s trade and investment promotion agency, which has been under his remit for the past two years.
Zurich-born Furrer will also focus on enhancing trade relations between Switzerland and the UAE as well as the other GCC countries, in addition to providing invaluable support in identifying business opportunities and supporting Swiss companies that are either already based in the region or those looking to set up here.
Furrer brings a wealth of international experience with him to his new role, having previously held posts in Washington DC with the World Bank Group and the Asian Development bank in Manila. He was also part of the Swiss delegation at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris between 1996 and 1998, subsequently being appointed as head of division for bilateral economic relations with Asia and Oceania, at the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs in Berne.
“The Consulate is dedicated to fostering solid trade and economic relations with Dubai and the UAE. In conjunction with the Swiss Business Hub GCC, which is also based in the Consulate, we can offer general and tailor-made support for Swiss businesses wanting to access local and regional markets.
“We support visiting trade and business delegations by arranging meetings with local organizations and potential partners and sponsors. We’ll also offer ongoing practical advice about the developing commercial landscape and provide regular updates about legal and administrative issues,” said Furrer.
Swiss exports to the UAE have grown strongly over the past three years, from AED 8 billion in 2010 to over AED 13.3 billion in 2013. The UAE is Switzerland’s top export market within the GCC, with Saudi Arabia coming in second with exports valued at approximately SAR 8.6 billion.
Valued at AED 4.9 billion, jewelry and precious metals, was the top Swiss export product to the UAE last year, ahead of AED 3.83 billion of watch exports. Machinery, pharmaceuticals, aircraft and vehicles come next with export values totaling AED 1.15 billion, AED 1.02 billion and AED 734 million respectively. Exports to the UAE of foodstuffs and medical equipment are also growing steadily.
Switzerland has an enviable reputation for the quality and innovation of its products and services as well as expertise in different fields, including cleantech, precision tools and financial services. Switzerland also offers an excellent environment for foreign companies looking for a business-friendly location to set up in Europe. In terms of tourism revenues it remains a favored summer destination for many GCC nationals, with its hotel schools also considered some of the finest in the world.
According to WAM, there are around 500 Swiss companies in the UAE, and in 2013, Dubai Customs witnessed a surge in trademark registrations from international companies. Of the 293 trademarks registered in 2013, 44 or 15% were Swiss trademarks, second only to the US.
The increased commercial activity has also led to growth in the number of Swiss nationals taking up residency in the UAE. Today there are more than 2,600 Swiss expatriates living and working in the UAE, representing an 8% increase over the previous year.
“Expo 2020 has clearly given local, regional and international companies business opportunities, but more importantly it has given them a focus, an impetus to explore the UAE’s commercial potential now. Our aim is to facilitate Swiss ambitions by building trust and enhancing our bilateral relations with the UAE and supporting individual companies seeking our support,” added Furrer.