UAE and Thailand to start comprehensive economic partnership talks this month

Non-oil trade between the two countries rose by 21% annually to $6.1bn last year

Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said a Cepa with Thailand will support the UAE's plans to grow trade. Victor Besa / The National
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The UAE and Thailand have agreed to start negotiations for a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (Cepa) as they seek to boost trade ties.

The first round of negotiations will begin in the Emirates on May 16, state news agency Wam reported.

A Cepa deal between the countries will build on growing bilateral non-oil trade, which increased by 21 per cent annually to $6.1 billion last year.

“Thailand is an increasingly important trade and investment partner for the UAE, and a high-growth economy in the heart of an exciting, rapidly emerging region,” said Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade.

“We have enjoyed strong bilateral trade growth in recent years and believe a comprehensive economic partnership agreement will deliver a wealth of opportunity in sectors such as tourism, food security, IT, logistics and financial services.”

The move comes as the Arab world’s second-largest economy forges ahead to develop closer trade and investment relations with partners around the world.

The UAE is working towards signing 26 Cepas as it seeks to diversify its economy, Minister of Economy Abdulla bin Touq said in March.

The country has already signed Cepas with India, Israel, Indonesia and Turkey, and is close to finalising agreements with Kenya.

In April, it finalised the terms of a similar pact with Cambodia and also recently concluded negotiations for a new trade deal with Georgia.

The UAE also started talks for a Cepa with Costa Rica in March.

The deals are part of the UAE’s strategy to double its foreign trade and the national economy by 2031.

Thailand’s economy is the second largest in South-East Asia and is projected to grow by 3.8 per cent in 2023, driven by a rebound in the country’s tourism sector.

The UAE’s principal exports to Thailand are ethylene polymers, gold, vegetable residues, delivery vehicles and parts, and electric batteries, with iron, steel and cosmetics emerging sectors.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s leading exports include office machinery and parts, motor vehicle parts, tyres and aluminium plating.

The Cepa negotiations with Thailand follow the launch of the first UAE-Thai Business Council in February.

Updated: May 10, 2023, 7:19 PM