Austrians Survey Business Opportunities in Yemen [Archives:1997/40/Business & Economy]

October 6 1997

The rapid economic development in Yemen have attracted the interest of many international business communities. Within the same week, two high-level trade missions have visited the country. Headed by H.E. Mr. Peter Klein, the Ambassador of Austria to Oman, the Austrian trade mission spent 3 days in Yemen. Included are 16 companies from the manufacturing industry, trade companies and representatives of leading banks. Meetings with various Yemeni business and trade establishments were held to further develop the commercial links between the two countries. “We are here to get feeling of the new positive developments in the Yemeni economy and ascertain possible business opportunities,” said Mr. Klein.
Mr. Fritz Langer is the Director of the Middle East Desk at the Austrian Foreign Trade Department at the Austrian Chamber of Commerce. Q: Could you tell us about the purpose of your visit to Yemen? A: We are not new comers. Austria had traditionally long-standing trade relations with Yemen. In the first half of the 80s, we had much higher export figures than we do have today. For the 1st half of 97 we exported to Yemen about 28m Austrian shillings (less than $2.5m) which is far below the potential. The last trade mission to Yemen was in 92. Since then many developments happened. According to World Bank and IMF reports we receive from our commercial office in Riyadh, Yemen is again an emerging market. So we have come to see the latest developments and to have direct contacts with the business community here as well as with the authorities. We held a seminar on the economic laws in Yemen.
Q: What does Yemen import from Austria? A: You have the traditional export order to the near Middle East such as timber, paper, small industrial plants, etc. We do hope there will be a shift towards machinery, know-how, and technology. We have within the delegation some companies working in the field of steam plants and waste treatment.
Q: What activities have you held during your visit? A: On the 1st day, there were many talks and meetings. We visited the offices of several companies, ministries, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry where we met the chairman, and the General Investment Authority. We got first hand information about the latest development, the changes and improvements. We are very confident that in the near future there’ll be a reactivation of our bilateral business and trade relations. We do hope that the Austrian companies will have good partners.
Q: How receptive was the Yemeni officials and business community? A: There is a great interest from your government as well as the business community. It’ll highly depend on the readiness of the local businessmen to start investments on their own. Austrian companies and businesses will be ready to join. We are interested in cooperating, but we did not come to Yemen expecting to find investment offers. We are looking for business opportunities.
Q: Are you acquainted with the Yemeni investment law? A: These laws are certainly a very important step in the right direction. However, it would not be very realistic to believe that just by issuing laws you’ll immediately get the response of the foreign investors. It’ll depend on the Yemeni businessmen. If they believe in the future of their own country and if they are ready to invest, then they’ll have success and there’ll be improvement of the economic situation. It’ll increase the stability of the country and encourage foreign investors to come.
By The Managing Editor