The UAE is seeking to increase trade and investment ties with the Association of South East Asian Nations member states, having signed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements with many of the countries in the bloc, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said.
The minister's remarks were made during a visit to Jakarta, Indonesia, to attend the annual Asean Business and Investment Summit, which brings together heads of state, policymakers and business leaders to discuss issues facing South-East Asia, the Ministry of Economy said on Tuesday.
“As the economic centre of gravity continues to shift eastward, the UAE and Asean can form a powerful new corridor of opportunity, one that can direct capital into high-growth sectors, develop solutions in food security and energy transition, and create clusters of excellence in the industries of the future,” Dr Al Zeyoudi said.
“Our Cepa programme, which includes completed deals with Indonesia and Cambodia, and the launch of negotiations with Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, underlines our confidence in these economies – and their role in delivering a new Asian future,” he said.
The UAE’s Cepa deal with Indonesia, which came into force last week, is projected to increase the value of bilateral non-oil trade to more than $10 billion within five years, from $4.08 billion now.
The agreement also seeks to raise the combined value of trade in services between the nations to $630 million by 2030.
The UAE also signed a Cepa deal with Cambodia designed to more than double non-oil bilateral trade over the next five years.
The accord aims to boost trade to $1 billion from $407 million in 2022, the Ministry of Economy said in June.
The UAE is working towards signing 26 Cepas as it seeks to attract more investment and diversify its economy.
The Asean, which includes Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, represented 5.2 per cent of the UAE’s total non-oil foreign trade in 2022, reaching $32.2 million, according to Dr Al Zeyoudi.
The non-oil trade between the UAE and the bloc rose 2 per cent annually to reach $15.3 billion in the first half of 2023.
“The nations of South-East Asia are natural trade and investment partners for the UAE as they all share pro-growth, pro-trade agendas, and there are limitless opportunities in sectors such as agriculture, renewable energy, advanced technology, logistics and sustainable travel and tourism that can be developed,” the minister said.
During the visit, Dr Al Zeyoudi held meetings with prime ministers, ministers and senior government officials to strengthen trade ties and build consensus on issues of global trade in the build-up to the World Trade Organisation’s 13th Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi in February, according to the Ministry of Economy.