The MoU was signed by HE Marwan bin Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and David C. Chavern, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in the presence of a number of officials from both Shurooq and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Under the terms of the MoU Shurooq and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will endeavour to encourage, promote, and facilitate investment and development cooperation among their respective business communities, in addition to establishing, coordinating, and expanding a business network that facilitates the circulation of the business opportunities available in both countries. The agreement furthermore aims to encourage the exchange of statistics in the form of economic and business data to facilitate investment and activate joint venture projects, as well as joint research activities. The agreement also makes provision for the participation of each party in conferences and trade shows organised by the other, working to overcome any obstacles facing the growth of investments and businesses, exchanging expertise and training, and encouraging reciprocal investments. Speaking about the MoU, Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) CEO, HE Marwan Al Sarkal said, "The relationship between the UAE and the USA is both longstanding and highly mutually beneficial, and as economic, cultural, and artistic exchange between our countries continue to grow, so do our mutual ties. In this respect Sharjah plays a key role, both due to its strategic positioning and because of the well-established track record of the numerous US entities, organisations, and corporations who have been present and successfully operational in Sharjah for many years now. As an emirate, Sharjah has a great deal to offer American businesses looking to find a home base in the Middle East and our aim with this agreement is to create awareness about Sharjah's extensive offering and unique advantages amongst the American business community." The Shurooq CEO went on to emphasise Sharjah's ideal positioning as an investment hub in the Middle East, pointing to its strategic location - it is the only emirate with direct access to the Arabian Gulf and the Indian Ocean, its incentive and flexible legislative structure, its state-of-the art facilities and sophisticated logistics infrastructure, as well as its friendly investment environment and its cultural, educational, and artistic offerings. He further underlined that this agreement forms part of Shurooq's establishing open and reciprocal communication channels with influential investment parties, with the aim of driving bilateral cooperation forward in various fields and ensuring broader collaboration in the future. Commenting on the MoU signing, Mr. David Chavern, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said: "Today is a milestone in the relationship between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Shurooq. It speaks to our commitment to promote Sharjah as a leading investment destination, as well as our shared desire to take the U.S.-U.A.E. trade relationship to new heights. At the U.S. Chamber, we are very focused on expanding the economic relationship between our two countries. We believe our new relationship with the Shurooq will help us strengthen and grow our commercial ties to the mutual benefit of businesses in both nations." According to recent figures issued by the American government, the UAE is one of the fastest growing trade partners of the USA. Total bilateral trade between both countries has grown from about $ 4.5 billion in 2002 to $ 24.8 billion in 2012. In the first nine months of last year, the total value of trade between the UAE and the USA rose by 12.5 per cent to $20,56 billion (AED75.46 billion), compared with $18.27 billion (AED67.05 billion) in the first nine months in 2012 - a strong growth that reflects the desire of both countries to further expand their bilateral relations. The signing of this MoU follows the Sharjah Roadshow in the USA that was organised by Shurooq, and took place from 30 September to 4 October under the slogan 'Sharjah - Promising Opportunities, Global Horizons'. Led by Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of the Sharjah Media Corporation and Sharjah Media Centre, the Roadshow saw the participation of over 20 entities and organizations from the emirate's public and private sector participating with the aim to promote Sharjah's investment, business, and cultural offerings while exploring means of cooperation and enhancing bilateral commercial relations. Established in 2009, Shurooq strives to encourage investment in the emirate of Sharjah by adopting the best international standards in providing quality services that help attract investors from the region and the world. Shurooq's key mission is to provide facilities and incentives to help overcome obstacles facing investment activities in the Emirate, evaluate tourism and investment related infrastructure projects, and lay down the necessary plans to complete such projects. In recognition of its overall accomplishments, Shurooq has been named The Banking Awards 2013 - FDI Agency of the Year in the MENA region in The European's Global Banking and Finance Awards.