UAE and Ecuador begin Cepa talks to bolster trade ties

The non-oil trade between the two countries reached $675 million in 2023

Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE's Minister of State for Foreign Trade, and Sonsoles Garcia, Minister of Production, Foreign Trade, Investments and Fisheries of Ecuador, signed a joint statement announcing the intention to begin negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. Wam
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The UAE has started talks for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa) with Ecuador as the Arab world’s second-largest economy continues to focus on strengthening trade ties with different countries across the globe.

The UAE has so far signed 11 Cepas with countries including India, Turkey, Israel, Indonesia, Cambodia, Georgia, as well as with Mauritius, Kenya, the Republic of Congo, Colombia and Costa Rica.

It is currently holding talks to conclude new deals with Serbia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Ukraine and New Zealand, while negotiations with South Korea have been completed.

“The commencement of negotiations with Ecuador aligns with the UAE's continuing efforts to cement its status as a global trade, investment, and logistical hub,” Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, told the state-run Wam news agency.

“These efforts aim to expand trade relations with ….. Ecuador, a key trading and investment ally, with shared objectives of driving sustainable economic growth in both nations.”

In 2023, non-oil bilateral trade between the UAE and Ecuador reached $675 million, marking a 76 per cent annual increase and more than tripling the figures recorded in 2021.

DP World is also investing in Ecuador's Port of Posorja, with investments valued at $1.2 billion.

“The initiation of Cepa negotiations with the UAE represents a pivotal step in expanding economic ties, with active participation from both countries' business communities, private sectors, and investors,” Sonsoles Garcia, Ecuador’s Minister of Production, Foreign Trade, Investments and Fisheries, said.

Agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, technology and renewable energy are some of the sectors where UAE and Ecuador are looking for opportunities to strengthen economic ties, according to Wam.

The UAE has renewable energy investments in several countries through Abu Dhabi's clean energy company Masdar.

The UAE–Ecuador Cepa, if finalised, would be the third such deal with a Latin American nation following agreements with Costa Rica and Colombia last week.

The new announcement comes as the UAE seeks to boost non-oil foreign trade to more than Dh4 trillion ($1 trillion) by 2031 amid new trade agreements with different countries and economic diversification plans.

The UAE's non-oil foreign trade hit a record Dh3.5 trillion in 2023, up from Dh2.23 trillion in 2022 as the country's trade with its top 10 most important foreign partners grew by 26 per cent last year.

Non-oil trade with Turkey, which contributed 5.1 per cent to the UAE's total, grew by 103.7 per cent year on year in 2023, the highest among the top 10 trading partners. This came after the two countries brought their Cepa into effect in September.

Trade with India, which signed a Cepa with the UAE in May 2022, grew by 3.9 per cent, accounting for more than 7.6 per cent of the total trade, the Emirates announced in February.

The UAE is expected to exceed its initial target of signing 26 Cepas because of its pace of work and interest from other countries, Dr Al Zeyoudi, told The National in March.

It also aims to conclude more trade deals with African countries, according to Juma Al Kait, assistant undersecretary for international trade affairs at the Ministry of Economy.

Updated: April 24, 2024, 2:08 PM