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UAE: New Authority to Oversee Food Safety and Boost Foreign Investment in Abu Dhabi

On 24 March 2019, the Abu Dhabi authorities announced that Law No 7 of 2019, on establishing the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA), has been passed. The new law, issued by President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, establishes ADAFSA to replace the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority and the Farmers Services Centre in Abu Dhabi, as well as all affiliates, including the Food Security Centre. The new body will assume control of all the abolished organisations’ responsibilities and assets. The Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority was one of the main bodies regulating the import of food products into the country.

Under the law, ADAFSA will be affiliated to the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, but will have an independent legal identity and full legal capacity. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, has been made chairman of ADAFSA, and a board of directors has already been appointed.

Although the detailed responsibilities of the new authority have not yet been made public, Sheikh Mansour said: "The move is reflective of the ambitions held towards turning Abu Dhabi into a pioneering hub for agricultural innovation in a desert environment in continuation of the government’s Ghadan 21 stimulus programme, which accelerates the emirate's efforts to drive scientific research and agricultural development." Ghadan 21 is a broad-based government development programme announced in September last year.

The restructuring underlines the Abu Dhabi administration’s desire to attract greater foreign investment into its agricultural sector. Currently, the bulk of the emirate’s foodstuffs come from overseas, with various strategic investments in recent years focused on diversifying Abu Dhabi’s international supply streams. Domestic investments have been largely in stockholding capacity, aimed at mitigating potential disruptions to international supply, and a fast-growing agri-food and food-processing segment.

Sheikh Mansour noted that an essential role of the new entity will be developing unified strategies that underpin existing and future partnerships with the private sector. He said: "Food security continues to be a national and strategic priority that entails concerted actions between the government and private sectors in order to ensure a well-integrated food security strategy."

The establishment of ADAFSA comes days before Abu Dhabi is due to host the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA) on 1 April, under the patronage of the new authority. Thamer Rashed Al Qasemi, Chairman of GFIA Organising Committee, underlined the importance that ADAFSA places on attracting foreign investment. He said: “At GFIA, the ADAFSA will highlight the opportunities and possibilities of agricultural and food investment in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and will conclude a number of agreements with both public and private sectors to launch a package of agricultural and food investments in the emirate.”

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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