UAE working on 26 comprehensive economic partnership agreements, minister says

The 100% ownership law for mainland companies has resulted in the addition of 300,000 new businesses, Abdulla bin Touq says at Investopia conference

Abdulla bin Touq, UAE Minister of Economy, said the Emirates plans to sign comprehensive partnership agreements with Turkey, Cambodia, Georgia and Vietnam. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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The UAE is working towards signing 26 comprehensive economic partnership agreements (Cepas) as it seeks to attract more investments and diversify its economy, said Abdulla bin Touq, UAE Minister of Economy.

“We have already signed Cepas with India, Indonesia and Israel. We are signing the agreement with Turkey, Cambodia, Georgia and Vietnam. We are going east and south-south”, he said, at the investment conference Investopia in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

“We want to open the world for businesses to think about what kind of trade they want to do, both in products and services,” Mr bin Touq, who is also chairman of Investopia, said.

Investopia was launched by the UAE in 2021 and this year is being organised under the theme “Envisioning opportunities in times of change”, in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.

It is an event within the first set of the Projects of the 50 developmental and economic initiative announced by the government in 2021 to accelerate the nation’s growth over the next five decades.

It is the first platform that unifies national investment opportunities and development projects from all emirates in line with the initiative.

The summit’s inaugural event took place in March last year along with the World Government Summit in Dubai.

The UAE, the Arab world’s second-biggest economy, is exploring future investment opportunities. This comes after the Covid-19 pandemic transformed economies, paved the way for new sectors, hastened the use of advanced technology and raised the need for sustainable growth.

It has announced a number of new initiatives to promote economic growth and attract foreign direct investment.

“The 100 per cent business ownership law for mainland companies has resulted in 300,000 new businesses and circulated the economy in a better way. We recorded Dh2.2 trillion ($599 billion) worth of trade, a record for the UAE,” Mr bin Touq said.

“We have seen talent come in because of the Golden Visa, Green Visa and the freelancer visa initiatives. The fuel for an economy is talent. New resources and capital are the most important aspects for economic growth.”

The fuel for an economy is talent. New resources and capital are the most important aspects for economic growth
Abdulla bin Touq, UAE Minister of Economy and chairman of Investopia

The minister also stressed the importance of multilateralism in the current geopolitical and economic scenario.

“Multilateralism and international organisations were created in times of change and conflict. Now, we see changes in six months”, he said.

“We are hosting Cop28, the Year of Sustainability and having conversations on climate change. We might have conflicts in other areas, but we all come together on this topic.”

The UAE is also hosting events such as the World Investment Forum in Abu Dhabi in October this year and the World Trade Organisation’s 13th Ministerial Conference in the first quarter of 2024, the minister said.

Meanwhile, Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, managing director and group chief executive of Mubadala Investment Company, emphasised the importance of collaboration, disruptive innovation and talent attraction during challenging times.

“Today, a lack of collective action to address global challenges is perhaps the most significant threat to humanity. Standing still is not an option. This is why the UAE, a nation at the crossroads between East and West, is relentlessly focused on fostering co-operation and solving problems in an increasingly multi-polar world.

“It is why we’re well on our way to supercharge economic growth,” he said, pointing to plans to double the country’s gross domestic product over the next 10 years, underpinned by investment opportunities.

“We continually work together to strengthen our world position as a destination of choice for entrepreneurs, innovators and investors.”

The UAE’s mission to Mars, the signing of the Abraham Accords, trade deals and investment partnerships are recent examples of how the UAE is “driving progress in complex times”, he said.

Mr Khaldoon said that collaboration is vital, a point driven home by the Covid-19 pandemic, in terms of responding to health crises, maintaining global financial stability and responding to the climate change emergency.

A focus on disruption can accelerate finding solutions to the world’s most pressing problems, he said.

“Our focus on disruptive innovation is shaping our future economic base and creating solutions that others can benefit from”, Mr Khaldoon said.

The UAE has embraced disruption with its investments in sectors including renewable energy, artificial intelligence, finance, tourism, health care and life sciences.

Mr Khaldoon added that the “resilience of the business community, investors’ resourcefulness and the government’s innovative approach here in the UAE gives me great optimism”.

The UAE ranked 19th globally in attracting foreign direct investment worth $20.7 billion in 2021, the Ministry of Economy reported.

Investopia aims to increase FDI flows to the UAE’s new and future sectors to Dh550 billion by 2030 and to Dh1 trillion by 2051.

Updated: March 02, 2023, 8:24 AM