October 26, 2021

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At the Virtual Launch of the Inaugural U.S.-UAE Strategic Dialogue

20 min read

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Washington, D.C.

MR LENDERKING: Good evening to those in Abu Dhabi, and good morning to those in Washington, D.C. Welcome to the virtual launch of the U.S.-UAE Strategic Dialogue and the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding.

We are pleased to be joined by His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates; His Excellency Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade of the United Arab Emirates; His Excellency Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bawardi, Minister of State for Defense Affairs of the United Arab Emirates; His Excellency Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates; His Excellency Yousef Al Otaiba, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to the United States of America; the Honorable Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State, the United States of America; the Honorable Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce of the United States of America; the Honorable John Rakolta Jr., Ambassador of the United States of America to the United Arab Emirates.

Our program will begin with brief remarks from Secretary Pompeo, Minister bin Zayed, Secretary Ross, and Minister of State Al Zeyoudi. This will be followed by the signing of the U.S.-UAE Strategic Dialogue Memorandum of Understanding.

And now, please allow me to invite Secretary Pompeo to deliver his remarks.

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Tim. Good morning, everyone. Good evening. Welcome to this launch of the first inaugural U.S.-UAE Strategic Dialogue. It’s a historic day, an important day, and it’s a great pleasure to be joined by my friends, Your Highness, my friend, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Your Excellencies, Ministers Zeyoudi, Bawardi, Gargash, and Ambassador Otaiba. Wilbur, John, Secretary Ross, Ambassador Rakolta, it’s great to be with you, too. Thanks for joining us. I regret so much that we can’t be here in person doing this alongside of each other. One day, before too long, we’ll do that.

During the Trump administration, the United States and the United Arab Emirates relationship has grown deeper and broader than at any point before. I think having this dialogue is evidence of that.

Sheikh Abdullah, we last saw each other at the White House for the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords with Israel.

It was a brave step that will create more opportunities for peace, prosperity, and stability in the Middle East and all around the world.

In your meeting with President Trump that day, you described the UAE as a nation “full of hope” that “wants to attract more hope to the region.” So beautiful.

Today’s MOU will build on those hopes in eight key areas of partnership: politics, defense, law enforcement and border security, intelligence and counterterrorism, human rights, economics, cultural – culture and academics, and space.

I am confident that the United States and the UAE’s strategic partnership across every one of these dimensions will grow in the years to come.

The Trump administration prioritizes this relationship so highly because our two peoples have demonstrated how much we can accomplish together – not just talk, but action.

We’ve worked alongside one another towards peace in many countries in the Middle East.

The UAE too is a top investor here in America. And you’re our number-one export destination in the Middle East as well.

We both value the protection of religious freedoms and cooperate on human rights objectives, like ending human trafficking and empowering women to reach their God-given potential. I hope to see more of that in the future from the entire region.

We of course remain engaged on a number of regional issues, including healing the rifts among Arab Gulf partners and advancing the cause of peace in Libya and in Yemen.

And we stand together on the international stage to counter the greatest destructive force in the Middle East – the Iranian regime.

I want to personally thank the UAE for its support of our maximum pressure campaign, which has denied Tehran access to weapons valued at more than $70 billion.

We’re grateful, too, for your help to hold the regime accountable at the United Nations.

By working with us, the UAE has shown that you want the UN to do its job to hold – uphold peace and security in your region.

Look, in short, the UAE is an increasingly important global partner with the United States.

The world will see that again next year with Expo 2020 in Dubai, which had to be delayed just a bit.

For all those reasons – for all those reasons and more, this is one of America’s most valued relationships, and all of us here in the Trump administration look forward to discussing all this in person in Abu Dhabi soon as a follow-on to this launch today. We’ll continue to work on today’s challenges, including those presented by Iran, and new challenges like those presented by the Chinese Communist Party’s malign influence, which threatens the region’s people and freedom around the world. Let’s keep up our good work through the expo, through 2021, as the UAE celebrates 50 years of independence.

With that, I am happy and honored to turn it over to Sheikh Abdullah. Thank you for being with me today.

MR LENDERKING: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I now have the pleasure to invite His Highness Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed to deliver his remarks.

FOREIGN MINISTER ABDULLAH BIN ZAYED: Dear friend and Secretary Pompeo, I’m honored to be here witnessing another historical day that joins us together, the UAE and the United States. As you mentioned, we’re not in person but virtually. It is a challenge, no doubt, with COVID, but it’s – it just shows how determined both of us, at both the UAE Government and the American administration, are working together and have been working together for so many years. You mentioned that the UAE will be celebrating its 50th anniversary, but we’ll also be celebrating our 50th anniversary of relationship between these two nations.

Not too long, I was honored to be at the White House lawn celebrating the Abrahamic Accord. Today, we see another important milestone in the relationship between the UAE and Israel. And frankly, if it wasn’t for the assistance of the Trump administration, your personal effort, dear Secretary, and your team, who’ve been so committed in working towards broader relationship with the UAE but also a broader relationship with the region to bring in the region hope, peace, and prosperity.

Nineteen years ago, dear Secretary, we decided the UAE to join the efforts of the United States in going after terror which occurred on 9/11. That’s not enough. The voices of extremism, radicalism is still gaining momentum. We saw that recently in Paris. And we have to double down our efforts together in overcoming these extreme radical voices. There’s no doubt in my mind that your administration and many countries around the world are willing and capable. We have to make sure that our effort succeeds.

Dear Secretary, almost a decade ago the UAE signed with the United States the 123 Agreement, which was considered then a gold standard. That gold standard is a blessing today. We look at the nuclear concern of all of us in Iran, and we believe that that nuclear gold standard should be applied on Iran as well. I hope that such a gold standard will remind us that this could be another moment of a gold standard, of a relationship between the UAE and the United States.

I’m sure that the efforts of Ambassador Rakolta, Dr. Gargash, and Yousef Al Otaiba and many more in the United States and the UAE who have been very much working in a joint, friendly spirit for a stronger UAE relationship with the United States. We would like to see more jobs created in the United States. We are proud that we provide over 120,000 jobs with our investments in the United States. The UAE is the largest export destination in the Middle East for the United States, and I’m sure with less barriers between us and more efforts and more good work, we can achieve much more.

So thank you, Secretary, and please convey my gratitude to your administration and your team in D.C.

MR LENDERKING: Thank you, Your Highness. Please allow me to invite Secretary Ross to deliver his remarks.

SECRETARY ROSS: Thank you, Timothy, for that introduction. Thank you also to my neighbor, Ambassador Rokolta, for organizing this event. And my thanks to Secretary Pompeo for your incredible leadership on last month’s peace agreement in the Mideast. The Abraham Accords have transformed Middle East dynamics and provided so many people with hope. Thank you for hosting today’s discussion.

A warm welcome also to His Excellencies Abdullah bin Zayed and Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Zeyoudi who join us this morning. I am pleased that today we can discuss expanding the commercial ties between our two nations. This dialogue is critical as we rise from the global COVID-19 challenges facing both of our nations. We are two of the most innovative and advanced economies in the world. And the UAE is our third-largest trading partner in the MENA region with more than $24 billion in two-way trade in 2019. U.S. foreign direct investment in UAE was 27.6 billion last year, up 2.7 billion since 2016. And Emeriti FDI into the United States increased from 13.7 billion in 2016 to 17.1 billion last year.

While the current COVID crisis is still affecting the global trade system, I am encouraged by your nations efforts to diversify your economy. The government’s recent reorganization enables you to become more agile and to prepare for expansion into advanced manufacturing, renewable energy, and commercial space, plus providing innovative solutions to food security.

The UAE’s work in improving its intellectual property rights environment is also reassuring. Unfortunately, your country is in its third year of appearing on the USTR’s Special 301 Report Watchlist for not providing adequate and effective protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights. However, your recent passage of the new pharmaceutical IEP regulation is a leap in the right direction and could make UAE the best and safest place in the Mideast to bring innovative pharmaceutical and biotech investment in technology.

My department is eager to have the U.S. Patent and Trade Office provide you with any technical assistance you might need to further refine your IPR practices. And my department’s International Trade Administration is looking forward to our upcoming data privacy technical workshops with the UAE in December.

U.S. companies have expressed concern about data localization efforts in the UAE. It cannot be overstated that adopting a data privacy framework based upon existing global models and best practices is critical to economic recovery and advancement. During the workshops, there will be discussions on data-flow regulations and a potential regional data framework. And in March next year, ITA’s global market’s team will host a two-day infrastructure roadshow in Abu Dhabi.

The first day’s infrastructure conference will enable UAE and regional government officials to present to an audience of U.S. companies and officials their upcoming major projects, such as smart cities, energy, and infrastructure, and highlight how U.S. companies can get more involved. The second day’s infrastructure summit will bring UAE and U.S. Government officials together to discuss how they can strategically support increased participation of UAE’s companies and UAE infrastructure projects.

These engagements will also offer great opportunities to engage on multiple advocacy cases across the Gulf. Within ITA, the Advocacy Center is currently assisting U.S. companies with 42 procurement cases in the UAE. The cumulative total project value of these approximates $10 billion, with 8.1 billion of U.S. content. The principal industries covered are aerospace and defense, safety and security, and energy.

Since 2016, the Advocacy Group has recorded seven project wins in the UAE with a total value of $2.3 billion. I encourage all of you here today to participate in both of these infrastructure events next spring. I also hope to welcome a delegation from UAE once more to the 2021 SelectUSA Investment Summit taking place June 6 to the 9th, 2021, here in Washington. This event provides a unique opportunity for Emirati business executives to meet with economic development organizations from across the United States.

Finally, I commend the UAE for hosting and organizing the upcoming World Expo in Dubai. Our U.S. Commercial Service will engage the U.S. business community in the Expo’s U.S. pavilion and will join you to celebrate the Expo’s conclusion in March 2022 by bringing our flagship Trade Winds Team Mission with over 100 U.S. companies to the UAE to explore export and trade opportunities. Meanwhile, the U.S. mission there is ready and willing to assist you in any way we can.

Before I close, I’m pleased to announce that the Department of Commerce is working to conclude two MOUs of understanding with Emirati Government agencies. One will be on exchanging best practices for promoting foreign direct investment and the other will be on promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. These MOUs will support the broader goals of the Strategic Dialogue and specifically address the focus areas of the economic, energy, and commercial partnership subcommittee.

Furthermore, we will announce soon our second digital attache who will cover digital trade issues and will be based in the UAE. I look forward to today’s discussion and to deepening our nations’ close relationship in the years to come. Thank you.

MR LENDERKING: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I now have the pleasure to invite Minister of State Al Zeyoudi to deliver his remarks.

STATE MINISTER AL ZEYOUDI: Thank you, Timothy. Good morning and good afternoon, everyone. It’s really an honor to be with my esteemed colleagues today of the start of the U.S.-UAE Strategic Dialogue. Let me as well thank His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed as well as his counterpart, Secretary Pompeo, for initiating this dialogue, as well as the Ambassador Al Otaiba and Rakolta for their ongoing support.

As you all know, the world is facing very challenging times, which makes today’s dialogue of great importance for the continued success of our bilateral relationship. Let me offer a few thoughts about the economic and trade relationship, some of the key areas that I think we can grow in the coming year.

For 11 years, the UAE has been the top U.S. export destination in the Middle East. In 2019, the U.S. enjoyed $15.7 billion U.S. trade surplus with the UAE, the U.S. third-largest trade surplus globally. This trade led to growth for U.S. businesses and supported 167,000 American jobs. As His Highness noted, the UAE is significant – number seven the U.S. direct investment under areas such as technology, infrastructure, health care, renewable energy, and chemicals, which are deepening our economic cooperation.

The UAE’s diverse and expanding unlimited (inaudible) economy, also created more collaboration, drives economic prosperity, as well as cultivates business opportunities. Of course, our Strategic Dialogue comes at a moment of great uncertainty with respect to the – both public health and global economy. We must be realistic in the face of the current global economic shut – downturn. Projection for the economic contraction will, of course, impact our trade bargain here and perhaps next year as well.

But during these challenging times, the UAE economy remains resilient with far-sighted leadership, deep financial resources, and global engagement (inaudible). The UAE knows how to put down (inaudible) to prosper in difficult condition, and the U.S. will, too.

I’m confident that the bilateral economic relationship will overcome the shock of the pandemic and continue to thrive. We are already seeing this in the way that the U.S. and the UAE partners have responded to the crisis – inventive ways. For example, the UAE’s Mubadala and its subsidiary, Strata Manufacturing, collaborated with Honeywell to develop N95 masks. Partnership sought to address the global need for personal protection equipment that many governments and organizations have struggled with since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak.

We here and the Ministry of Economy can assure you that the UAE’s leadership is energetic about finding new areas to expand trade and investment all around the world, and especially with the U.S. This is why we at the Ministry of Economy are working closely together to engage with our partners and develop new approaches to global economic development. No partner is more important than the United States, and we know there is much to explore.

Let me just as well highlight and address the issue with respect to the 2019 Special 301 Report. The UAE has made significant progress in regards to the patent protection, destruction of counterfeit goods, and creation of a collective management society. We do hope that the recent shared trust of the UAE action plan with the U.S. side can act as a firm basis for constructive discussion between both sides. And I can assure you that there is a high-level resolve within the UAE Government to be removed from the USTR 301 Special Report and the intellectual property rights watch list.

Given the current economic challenges facing the world today, it’s even more crucial that we use this dialogue to work through hurdles and ensure a clear pathway to growth and mutual prosperity between our two countries. I’m confident that together, we’ve now further strengthened our economic partnership and help to lead the global restart and recovery. Thank you.

MR LENDERKING: Thank you, Mr. Minister. And now, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Arab Emirates Dr. Anwar Gargash, and Ambassador of the United States of America to the United Arab Emirates John Rakolta Jr., will sign and exchange the Memorandum of Understanding.

(The agreement was signed.)

MR LENDERKING: This Memorandum of Understanding memorializes that we are establishing a Strategic Dialogue between the United Arab Emirates and the United States as a forum for open, productive engagement and cooperation. This initiative recognizes the enduring partnership and common vision that we share for a secure, stable, and prosperous Middle East.

With the establishment of the Strategic Dialogue, we acknowledge the benefits of regular and robust engagement to exchange views and deepen our cooperation on areas of mutual interest.

(The agreement was signed.)

MR LENDERKING: Thank you, Secretary Pompeo, Minister bin Zayed, Secretary Ross, Minister of State Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State Al Bawardi, Minister of State Gargash, Ambassador Rakolta, and Ambassador Otaiba.

This concludes the virtual launch of the U.S.-UAE Strategic Dialogue. Thank you, everyone, for joining.

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