UAE and Cambodia sign economic pact to boost trade ties

Accord expected to boost non-oil commerce between the two countries to $1 billion within five years

From left, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, with Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen and Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak at the signing ceremony. Photo: Ministry of Economy
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The UAE and the Cambodia have signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement that aims to more than double non-oil bilateral trade over the coming five years.

The accord aims to boost trade to $1 billion from to $407 million in 2022, the UAE Ministry of Economy said on Thursday.

The agreement was signed in Phnom Penh by Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, and Pan Sorasak, Cambodia's Minister of Commerce, in the presence of Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The two countries concluded Cepa talks in April and the agreement aims to eliminate or reduce customs duties, remove unnecessary trade barriers, support investment, open market access to services exports and create more opportunities for businesses to forge partnerships.

The UAE-Cambodia Cepa is a “new milestone in our foreign trade agenda that strengthens our growing role in the east-west trade corridor”, said Dr Al Zeyoudi.

“It will not only contribute to our goal of doubling non-oil foreign trade by 2031 but also expand our presence in the rapidly growing economies of South-East Asia, opening new doors for exporters to reach millions of consumers.

“Cambodia will also benefit from our global connectivity and ability to re-export goods to more than 400 cities around the world. We will continue to expand global trade to foster long-term, sustainable growth and economic diversification with all whom we do business with.”

The UAE, which aims to boost trade and economic relations with countries around the globe, is working towards signing 26 Cepas as it seeks to attract more investment and diversify its economy.

The country has already signed similar deals with India, Israel and Indonesia, Turkey and is close to concluding agreements with Kenya.

It aims to eliminate unnecessary trade barriers, increase market access and set up investment and trade ventures with its partners.

Trade between the UAE and Cambodia increased to $407 million in 2022, an annual 33 per cent from 2021, and gained 28 per cent compared with 2019.

The UAE is also one of Cambodia's top trading partner in the Arab world, accounting for 70 per cent of its trade with the region in 2022, the Ministry of Economy.

A wide range of investment opportunities in the tourism, logistics, infrastructure and renewable energy sectors are expected with the agreement's enforcement, the ministry said.

The accord opens up various service sectors in the Cambodian market to UAE businesses while also guaranteeing products from the Emirates access to the Cambodian market, covering 92 per cent of customs tariff lines and more than 93 per cent of the value of non-oil trade.

Both countries will now complete the necessary requirements and internal legal procedures for ratification of the Cepa, with the deal set to enter into force before the fourth quarter of this year.

UAE exports are projected to reach Dh2 trillion ($545 billion) by 2030, with trade growing faster than the global average as the Emirates focuses on developing new trade corridors and diversifying its exports.

The country's exports are projected to increase by 5.5 per cent annually, with metals and minerals (accounting for 73 per cent of exports by 2030) and plastics and rubbers set to drive growth, according to estimates from Standard Chartered.

The UAE aims to deepen trade and investment ties with fast-growing economies in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, as well as attract $150 billion in foreign investment into its domestic non-oil industries and diversify its export profile.

The UAE's goods trade with the rest of the world hit $1.02 trillion in 2022, with exports and imports increasing due to higher crude oil prices, according to the World Trade Organisation's Global Trade Outlook and Statistics report released in April.

The Gulf country accounted for 2.4 per cent of the world's goods exports last year, the WTO said.

Updated: June 08, 2023, 10:49 AM