The Ministry of Economy (MoE), in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ADCCI) and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), has hosted a workshop to increase the Abu Dhabi business community’s awareness about importance of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) programme – which is securing deeper trade relationships with major economies around the world and cementing the UAE’s status as a global trade and logistics hub.

The workshop, held today at Park Hyatt, Saadiyat Island, is part of ongoing efforts to promote opportunities for the business community in the emirate and provide platforms for insightful and interactive conversations. Today’s workshop highlighted the key benefits of the UAE’s CEPAs, which include the elimination or reduction of customs duties, the removal of technical barriers to trade and improved market access for merchandise and services exporters. The session also highlighted the opportunities provided to Abu-Dhabi-based businesses to enhance economic cooperation and explore joint ventures in these important markets.

ADDED’s workshop, which was attended by more than 250 representatives of key businesses in Abu Dhabi, was addressed by H.E. Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, H.E. Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman of ADDED, H.E. Rashed Abdulkarim Al Blooshi, Undersecretary of ADDED, H.E. Dr. Ali Saeed bin Harmal Al Dhaheri, First Vice Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Chamber, H.E. Alia Al Mazrouei, CEO of Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, and H.E. Raja Al Mazrouei, CEO of Etihad Credit Insurance (ECI).

To date, the UAE has signed CEPAs with seven nations and is in advanced negotiations with 12 more. The programme was a major component of the “Projects of the 50”, which was launched in September 2021 to strengthen the UAE's position as a global trade, business and investment hub. The CEPAs have also been designed to support greater foreign direct investment (FDI) flows as UAE aims to attract $150 billion in foreign investment by 2031 and rank among the top 10 countries globally in term of attracting FDI. In 2022, the UAE attracted $23 billion in FDI, ranking 16th globally.

The agreements will also support the UAE’s ambition to double non-oil foreign trade by 2031, rising from the AED2.2 trillion recorded in 2022 to beyond AED4 trillion. The CEPAs inked so far will pave the way to increase the UAE non-oil bilateral trade volumes with theses trade partners to more than $170 billion (AED625.6 billion) in the coming five years, up 46% from $116.1 billion (AED427 billion) in 2022.

His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said: “The United Arab Emirates’ Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement program has opened up a world of opportunities for our exporters, investors, and entrepreneurs by securing stronger, deeper trade ties with a number of dynamic, high-growth economies – including India, Türkiye, South Korea, and Indonesia. By lowering tariffs, removing barriers to trade, supporting SMEs and accelerating investment into priority sectors, we are driving a new era of global exchange, with the UAE at its center. Today’s event is an important step in ensuring our private sector is fully equipped with the knowledge and information to fully leverage these partnerships and help us meet our long-term economic objectives. I look forward to the impact these conversations will have on our non-oil foreign trade – and, by extension, our national growth.”

H.E. Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman of ADDED, said “Trade has always been a key driver of socio-economic development. Our strategic location and business-friendly mindset, approaches, and policies have positioned us as a global trade, business, and investment hub.

We have set bold goals for expanding our non-oil trade and boosting key sectors. To this end, we are forging ahead with efforts to facilitate trade and ensure ease of doing business. Coupled with our world-class infrastructure, connectivity, trade platforms, policies, and solutions, CEPAs provide businesses with ample, promising opportunities to grow and expand out of Abu Dhabi.”

For his part, His Excellency Dr. Ali Saeed bin Harmal Al Dhaheri, First Vice Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Chamber, underscored in a speech he delivered during the workshop the pivotal role of the comprehensive economic partnership agreements (SEPAs) in fortifying the UAE economy and securing its position on the world economic map.

“CEPAs have ushered in a new era of growth and sustainable development by unlocking untapped potentials for investors and entrepreneurs, enabling them to access international markets by reducing or eliminating tariffs and streamlining customs procedures,” he said, expressing the Chamber’s commitment to empowering businesses in Abu Dhabi, facilitating their utilisation of CEPA benefits, and supporting their expansion globally while exploring new investment opportunities across various economic sectors, thereby contributing significantly to the economic diversification process in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi’s trade facilitation solutions, including the Advanced Trade and Logistics Platform (ATLP), have simplified procedures, reduced time, and cost, supporting increased trade volumes.

In 2022, Abu Dhabi non-oil exports grew by 26%, while the average annual growth rate of Emirate’s non-oil exports between 2016 and 2022 was 6% across all sectors.              Abu Dhabi aims to increase its non-oil exports by 143% over the next decade.

The workshop highlighted CEPAs main targeted areas, including goods, services, rules of origin/preferential certificate of origin, and safeguard measures. By eliminating or reducing tariffs and customs duties with key trading partners, CEPAs make it easier and cost-effective for businesses to export goods and services abroad. This increased access to foreign markets will attract investment, create jobs, and spur the growth of our economy.
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