The relations between China and UAE have historically been mounted on high-level trade. In 2007, China-UAE bilateral trade scaled new highs, exceeding $19.4 billion and indicating a growth rate of 41 percent. There are also some 2,200 Chinese firms operating in the UAE and a large community of Chinese in the United Arab Emirates who are involved primarily in the construction sector. Additionally, the UAE is China's second largest trading partner in the Gulf region and the largest in terms of buying Chinese products. According to Wen Jiabao, "the UAE is one of China's most important economic partners in the Gulf region, serving as a transfer center for Chinese products to the Middle East and African markets." He also encouraged Emirati businesses to invest in China and Chinese companies to invest in the UAE, noting that the expansion of bilateral cooperation facilitates the fundamental interests of both nations. During a visit to China in 2010, UAE Minister of Foreign Trade Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi expressed that the UAE was keen on strengthening its strategic partnership with China and developing commercial and investment cooperation.