In the first three months of 2019 investments by UAE banks in the UK increased by nearly a quarter. The Central Bank of the UAE’s statistical data showed that investments by these banks in the UAE increased by 23.9 percent to Dh61 billion during that period.

With that, the UK has become a prominent market for the UAE lenders. The investments by Emirati banks in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Egypt increased to Dh90.4 billion, accounting for 15.5 percent of banks’ total assets invested abroad, WAM reported. 

According to WAM, Dr Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade, said, “The question of whether bilateral trade agreements [with individual countries are possible] is something we want to explore after we have left the EU.”

Last month, the UK was preparing to explore possibility of free trade agreements (FTAs) with countries in the Gulf region. However, Fox added that the UK is not allowed to establish FTAs until it leaves the EU. 

“As the first major international moment after we leave the EU, Expo 2020 Dubai will mark the UK becoming a truly independent trading nation,” he said.  

However, UK-GCC trade relations have strengthened over the years as UK exports to the Gulf and the UAE banks’ investments in the UK have increased. 

Based on the UK Department of International Trade data, the UK is superseding China in its export rate to the region. The trade valuation between the UAE and the UK alone reached £16.3 billion in the second quarter of 2018.