DUBAI, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Two largest banks of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) do not only expand to China, but they also embrace the growing number of Chinese enterprises in the Gulf state.
The UAE's second largest lender National Bank Abu Dhabi (NBAD) hit the news last week, when it announced on June 1 that it had opened its first representative office in China, in the business metropolis of Shanghai. It is the second NBAD branch after the bank opened the first office in Hong Kong in 2009.
Both branches have the mission to conduct trade financing for firms from the UAE and China. Bilateral trade between the two countries hit a whopping 35.1 billion U.S. dollars in 2011, representing an annual growth of 35 percent in the last decade, data compiled by the UAE Ministry of Trade revealed.
Chinese products are found in nearly all sectors in the UAE, but the bulk of goods are for the consumer and the construction and real estate industry.
Meanwhile, the UAE's largest bank, NBAD's arch rival Emirates NBD, has announced on June 7 that it will set up a rep office in Beijing, thus becoming the first UAE lender to set a foot in China 's capital.
Back home in the UAE, NBAD considers to widen its operations. " Nothing has been decided, but we certainly look at other options to expand within China," said Mohamed Sultan Shimaisani, NBAD Branch Manager at the Al Bourj Avenue in Dubai neighboring emirate of Sharjah.
He added that "when we go abroad we take one careful step after the other."
At the ongoing three-day Guangdong Build UAE 2012 fair and exhibition, which kicked off Monday in Sharjah and showcases building materials from Guangdong province in Southeast China, Shimaisani said that "NBAD is stepping up its consultancy services to Chinese firms which operate in the UAE."
"At our branch in Sharjah, Chinese small and medium enterprises (SME) became an important group in our client portfolio," he said.
According to the Chinese General Consulate in Dubai, as of today there are some 4,000 Chinese firms, mostly SME, residing in the UAE, 300 more than in 2010.
NBAD's Shimaisani said that the over a dozen of trade fairs highlighting products from China, like the Guangdong Build UAE 2012 fair and exhibition, "are an ideal platform for NBAD to meet existing and new clients and discuss with Chinese businessmen their financial needs."
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