The UAE has reduced and waived fees for certain government services as the country seeks to create an attractive business environment for investors and support small-and-medium enterprises in the industrial sector.

The Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT) reduced the fees for 14 services and waived the fee for one service as of January 1, as part of efforts to support entrepreneurship in the industrial sector by reducing the cost of doing business in the UAE, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The reduction and cancellation of some fees are in line with the ministry’s keenness to develop priority industrial sectors in the country and enhance its investment appeal,” Omar Al Suwaidi, undersecretary of MoIAT, said.

“The reduction of fees will improve the UAE’s competitiveness through growth in the economy and business development, which will reflect on the index of ease of doing business.”

The Arab world’s second biggest economy has implemented an array of reforms aimed at improving the ease of doing business, attracting foreign investors, creating jobs and diversifying its economy away from oil. The UAE has allowed 100 per cent foreign ownership of companies, reduced visa restrictions, provided various incentives for SMEs and introduced laws to improve transparency for investors.

The UAE is ranked 16th in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report. It scored an ease of doing business score of 80.9 out of 100 and was the strongest performer overall in the Middle East and North Africa region, according to the last report by the Washington-based lender.

The MoIAT’s move to reduce or waive fees is in line with UAE’s efforts to expand the industrial base under its Operation 300bn programme. Launched in March 2021, the 10-year strategy seeks to increase the industrial sector’s contribution to the country’s gross domestic product to Dh300 billion ($81.7 billion) by 2031.

The service fee reduction will also encourage sustainable industrial activities by promoting the use of advanced technology that lowers emissions, the ministry said.

MoIAT reduced the fee of issuing a product conformity certificate from a provider of a specific conformity assessment from Dh1,000 to Dh670. The cost of issuing a conformity certificate for optional (unrestricted) products dropped from Dh3,700 to Dh1,720.

Costs for licensing to use the Emirates Quality Mark fell from Dh26,000 to Dh2,000, licensing to use the national Halal mark from Dh18,000 to Dh2,000 and scope expansion of the Emirates Quality Mark and the national Halal mark from Dh2,500 to Dh250.

The scheme also includes reducing the fees of the notification of conformity assessment bodies from Dh33,000 to Dh24,500 and for registering conformity assessment bodies from Dh7,500 to Dh5,000.

Studies conducted by the ministry indicated an increase in demand by factories to obtain certificates, with an expected annual growth rate of up to 25 per cent in the number of applications for next year, compared to a 12 per cent increase in applications in 2020, it said.

MoIAT also expects an increase in requests for licensing to use the Emirates Quality Mark, and for conformity certificates for health and safety requirements, it said.