UAE expects $4 billion GDP boost from Georgia trade pact by 2031

Trade between the two countries has huge potential, says Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade

Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. The UAE is seeking to develop opportunities with Georgia in priority sectors such as agriculture, transport, tourism, renewable energy and digital trade. AFP
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The UAE and Georgia's comprehensive economic partnership agreement (Cepa) is expected to add at least $4 billion to the Gulf country's gross domestic product by 2031.

The deal between the two countries is scheduled to come into effect by the first quarter of 2024, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said in Dubai on Tuesday.

"It's going to be opening huge market access to our exports; the minimum is at least $1.3 billion for our exports to Georgia in five years," Dr Al Zeyoudi said.

"There is huge potential. The growth we've been seeing in the last two years is going to continue."

Non-oil trade between the UAE and Georgia has surged significantly, climbing to $481 million in 2022, an annual growth of 115 per cent, the minister said.

In the first half of 2023, it reached $225 million, up 28 per cent on the same period last year, he said.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said on X, formerly Twitter, that the UAE's goal "is to double bilateral non-oil trade to reach Dh1.5 billion annually during the next five years".

"The UAE is Georgia’s largest trading partner in the Arab world and the sixth largest global investor in Georgia," Sheikh Mohammed said, as he witnessed the signing of the Cepa.

In March, the UAE and Georgia concluded talks on a Cepa that is set to bolster economic ties and boost trade between the two nations.

Once enacted, the trade pact will eliminate or significantly reduce tariffs, remove non-tariff barriers and promote trade in goods, services and investment.

The UAE is seeking to develop opportunities with Georgia in priority sectors such as agriculture, transport, tourism, renewable energy and digital trade.

The Emirates now accounts for more than 63 per cent of the total volume of Georgia’s trade with Arab countries.

The country's investment in Georgia represents 5 per cent of its total foreign direct investment, making the Emirates its sixth-largest global investor, government data showed.

The UAE is preparing to finalise Cepas with South Korea and Thailand, the minister said in September. These will be followed by agreements with Costa Rica, Chile and Vietnam.

"Our priority is to have market access everywhere,"Dr Al Zeyoudi said.

"We're very close to closing a deal with South Korea, Thailand, [and] we're starting soon with Malaysia. We're progressing very well with Vietnam," he said.

"We're close as well to conclude with Columbia, Chile, Costa Rica ... the speed depends on the resources of the other parties, as well."

In a separate statement issued by the UAE Government Media Office, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, the UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Cop28 President-designate, said that the signing of the Cepa with Georgia offers "exciting new opportunities for the UAE’s exporters, industrialists and manufacturers".

“Located in a dynamic region that is pursuing ambitious growth, Georgia’s economy has many synergies with our own, featuring business-friendly regulation, various enablers and incentives and a well-developed industrial logistics and infrastructure," he said.

Levan Davitashvili, Goergia's Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, said the Cepa was completed after three rounds of negotiations that began in September 2022 and ended in March 2023.

The forecast trade numbers between the two countries in 2023 are "very promising", he said.

"This is a very important phase in our bilateral economic relationship and this progress is a very important foundation to further boost our economic co-operation."

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.

It has already concluded agreements with India, Israel, Turkey and Indonesia.

The Arab world's second-biggest economy is seeking to expand trade with partners as it pursues its target of Dh4 trillion ($1.09 trillion) in foreign trade by 2031.

Abu Dhabi will next year host the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation, where one of the key priorities will include increasing the participation of the Global South in international trade.

Updated: October 11, 2023, 3:24 AM