In recent years, many countries around the world have embarked on what scholars term as economic diplomacy with the view to achieving their national interest and sustaining their competitiveness in the global context. From the course readings, it is clear that economic diplomacy can be described as applying a wide range of economic tools of the state to attain its national interest by promoting trade, stimulating economic growth, attracting foreign investment, and supporting local business engagements. The present paper’s focus is to provide advice to UAE diplomats and recommendations on how to conduct business diplomacy in an increasingly globalized and networked economy.
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Advice and Recommendations
To build a successful economic diplomacy platform, the UAE diplomats need to do more to encourage free trade and engagements with international trade organizations. Although countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom have destabilized global trade by seeking more protectionist policies for their respective economies, it would be prudent for the UAE diplomats to continue encouraging free trade in their foreign jurisdictions with the view to reinforcing the pillars that support the country’s economy. It is also clear that adopting an orientation that encourages free regional and international trade will ensure that the UAE can increase its volumes in trading services at the international level. To reinforce this point, it is important to note that the UAE has continued to attract millions of health tourists and international students due to its excellent facilities/institutions, political stability in a geopolitical region that is often characterized by acts of terrorism well as economic prudence. It is strongly advised that increasing free trade may help the UAE double its numbers in health tourism and higher education.
Additionally, the UAE diplomats need to do more to tap into the high number of international passenger traffic for economic gains. Available documentation shows that, in 2015, more than 77 million international passengers passed through Dubai. The high number of international passengers entering or passing through the UAE means that the diplomats can work in liaison with the government to develop strategies and policy directives to help local companies in the hotel and hospitality industry to optimize their business opportunities by offering various types of services to the passengers. Such an orientation, in my view, is bound to increase the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) while addressing the challenges of unemployment and crime. In collaboration with the government, the diplomats can also come up with policies that make it easier for these passengers to spend more time in the UAE, thus spending more money on the multiplicity of product and service offerings that characterize the country’s landscape. Such policies may include the provision of free tourist visas to visitors and funding cultural expos.
Lastly, it is also important for the diplomats posted in various foreign jurisdictions to develop strategies that will attract more inbound foreign direct investment (FDI). Available documentation demonstrates that the UAE is the third country in the Middle East and Africa category to attract more inbound FDI, after Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Although this is a commendable position, the diplomats can do more by marketing the UAE as an investment destination of choice due to improvements in business regulations and ease of doing business. It is interesting to note that the 2017 World Bank Ease of Doing Business Rankings put the UAE at position 26 globally, meaning that the country’s business environment has improved substantially. In my view, this admirable position should be used to negotiate for more FDI into the country. Here, diplomats need to take the leading role as they are the ones who are direct contact with countries with the capacity to transfer huge financial, material, technological, and human resource investments into the country.
Drawing from the advice points discussed in this paper, it is recommended that the UAE diplomats working in foreign jurisdictions be retrained in economic diplomacy with the view to ensuring that they can identify opportunities for economic growth and implement strategies to tap into these opportunities. Another recommendation concerns developing a diplomatic think-tank that will focus on developing policy regulations to encourage free trade and attract more FDI into the country. Since diplomats serve as the main contact points between the government and foreign nations, it is prudent that they are given this opportunity to develop the strategies based on the realization that they are aware of the factors that hinder free trade and inbound FDI. Lastly, diplomats should work in close collaboration with local industries and establishments with the view to identifying areas that could be exploited to tap into the huge international passenger traffic.
This paper has not only provided advice to UAE diplomats but also detailed several recommendations on how to conduct business diplomacy in an increasingly globalized and networked economy. Although the advice is not exhaustive, it is evident that encouraging free trade, tapping into the high number of international passenger traffic, attracting more inbound FDI and marketing the UAE as an investment destination of choice due to improvements in business regulations and ease of doing business will go a long way in transforming business diplomacy, which in turn will ensure economic progress in the coming years and beyond. However, the UAE government needs to implement the identified recommendations to provide the needed impetus for the country to exploit business diplomacy for economic growth.