Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, UAE Minister of the Economy, and ‏Mehmet Muş, the Turkish Minister of Trade, signed the agreement. Image Credit: Twitter/@MohamedBinZayed

Abu Dhabi: Signing its fourth CEPA with Turkey, besides those signed with India, Indonesia, and Israel, will give UAE access to enter new markets that reach more than 2.2 billion people, including the Greater Arab Free Trade Area Agreement that was signed more than 15 years ago, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade said on Friday.

Four bilateral agreements will contribute to an over 2.4 per cent increase in the country’s GDP by 2031, further driving the growth of UAE exports by adding $120 billion over the next 10 years. This will create more economic and trade opportunities, Dr Al Zeyoudi explained, noting that, after signing the agreement with Turkey, the UAE’s economy will be linked to more than 10 per cent of the global economy.

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UAE-Turkey bilateral trade

The Minister said that Turkey was the UAE’s sixth-largest trading partner in 2022, recording a growth of 40 per cent compared to 2021, with non-oil foreign trade reaching $18.9 billion last year.

Dr Al Zeyoudi added that the UAE-Turkey CEPA will see tariffs removed from 83 per cent of the commodities in the two countries, in addition, the liberalising non-oil trade by 93 per cent of the commodities. This will further help create a new market for the two countries in sectors such as food security, agriculture, financial technology, telecommunications, logistics, renewable energy, and real estate.

With CEPA, the volume of trade exchange between the two countries is expected to grow to over $40 billion annually within five years, in addition to creating over 25,000 jobs, especially in the skilled labour sectors, in the UAE by 2031. The UAE’s exports to Turkey are expected to grow by 20 per cent during the next stage.

According to Dr Al Zeyoudi the UAE-Turkey CEPA is expected to be ratified before the end of the second quarter of 2023.

CEPA pipeline

On the UAE’s future plans on the comprehensive economic partnerships front, Dr Al Zeyoudi said that the UAE is advancing at an accelerating pace. “We are in the process of finalising two new agreements with Cambodia and Georgia within the next 3 to 4 weeks, as well as two agreements with Kenya, which are 85 per cent agreed upon,” he said, adding that this serves as an important gateway to Africa.

He also hinted at an agreement with Colombia, explaining that negotiations were postponed until after the elections, and will resume soon.

The Minister added that the UAE aims to utilise CEPAs to expand its partnerships with ASEAN countries, with negotiations already underway with Thailand and Vietnam. There are also plans to expand in Africa and South America, which would reflect positively on the UAE’s trade growth, he continued. The UAE is also working on comprehensive economic partnership agreements with two economic blocs in the Eurasian region, with negotiations to begin next week and be completed within 6 months, while CEPA negotiations with Ukraine will begin in April.