By Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi
Openness to the world is an authentic Emirati approach practised by the country since its establishment as an active and reliable member of the international community that is keen on contributing to overcoming global challenges.
The priorities set by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, when he chaired the first meeting of the Council of Ministers in the new year, constitute five government priorities during 2023, including the UAE’s economic partnerships and their expansion.
At a time when some countries around the world are increasingly heading towards protectionism and isolationism, the UAE continues to leverage its global presence by opening up to the world by expanding its network of trading partners through comprehensive economic partnership agreements with a carefully selected group of markets of strategic importance internationally and regionally.
The importance of this approach is not confined to the economic, commercial and investment dividends reaped by the respective parties to those agreements, but extends to ensure consolidation of the country’s position as a major contributor to the efforts of enhancing international cooperation to revitalise the global economy and help it overcome the besetting challenges of rising inflation rates and looming recession. This can be achieved through partnerships, synergy and constructive efforts conducive to securing sustainable growth, stability and security in a complex world.
The UAE’s keenness to open up to the world and work to stamp out obstacles to trade and investment flows translates into a consistent Emirati approach, as trade has always represented an integral part of the history and heritage of the country, which has always been and still representing a bridge between East and West.
Expanding the country’s global economic partnerships lies at the heart of the government’s priorities in 2023, which gives more impetus to its tireless efforts to forge more comprehensive economic partnership agreements.
During 2022, the UAE succeeded in completing three agreements with India, Israel and Indonesia, with the first having already entered into force last May to reflect positively on the country’s non-oil foreign trade data for the first nine months of the year. The second was approved by the two countries’ governments in preparation for its implementation, while the third will follow suite in the near future.
The UAE’s comprehensive economic partnership agreements with India and Indonesia open the door for Emirati products and services, and unleash huge opportunities for exporters to the markets of these two countries, which are inhabited by more than 1.750 billion people: 1.4 billion in India and 350 million in Indonesia. India now ranks the world’s sixth-largest economy, a coveted position that is even projected to advance over the coming years; the same applies to Indonesia, whose records show impressive growth rates.
Concurrently, the UAE continues its advanced talks to complete more agreements with five other countries. Similar negotiations will soon be launched with other countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. This is accompanied by continuing negotiations under the umbrella of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) with China, S. Korea and the United Kingdom, along with a number of economic blocs.
The comprehensive economic partnership agreements aim to build solid trade and investment partnerships based on mutual interests with a group of key strategic markets around the world. This is to ensure seamless flow of trade, services and investments, being a significant catalyst for achieving sustainable economic and social development. The combined volume of the foreign trade of these countries and blocs with which the UAE aims to sign agreements represent about 95 percent of global trade.
This trend creates more opportunities for growth and prosperity for the country’s non-oil trade to achieve the goals of the “Projects of the 50” and the “We The UAE 2031” vision to increase the UAE’s foreign trade to AED4 trillion, and with it, while advancing non-oil exports to AED800 billion.
The conclusion of these comprehensive economic partnerships is in line with recent trends in economic development, specifically the policy of positive openness and building fruitful international partnerships adopted by the UAE, especially since this type of agreements constitute an ideal means and tool for accelerating the global economic recovery process, overcoming the limited size of local and regional markets, accommodating industrial projects, and attracting foreign direct investment.
It also supports economic diversification efforts, by promoting national exports, developing trade exchanges and evolving them towards outputs that contribute to supporting the country’s sustainable development strategies, and contribute to supporting the investment environment in the country, and attracting foreign direct investments, so that the country occupies a leading position in terms of foreign investment flows, thus supporting its commercial and economic status as a global trade centre.
The UAE’s drive towards more global economic partnerships was reflected in the value of the country’s non-oil foreign trade, which recorded unprecedented historic figures in the first nine months of 2022.
The UAE’s non-oil foreign trade exceeded AED1.637 trillion, a growth of 19 percent compared with the same period of 2021, an increase of 50 percent compared to the same period of 2020, and a rise of 30 percent compared to the same period of 2019.
The UAE had also consolidated its recovery from the repercussions of the COVID-19, recording higher rates than the pre-pandemic period.
This coincided with a noticeable increase in the country’s non-oil exports, whose contribution to total foreign trade amounted to 20 percent compared to 12 percent, five years ago, and re-exports that currently contribute 45 percent, while imports declined to 55 percent, compared to more than 62 percent, five years ago.
This confirms that the economic diversification strategy is going hand in hand with the growth and expansion of the country’s foreign trade, which also proves that the plans to double the GDP to AED3 trillion by 2030, of which trade is an integral part, are also moving in the right direction, in conjunction with the efforts to consolidate the country’s position as a global business centre and a preferred destination for talented, innovators and creative ideas, and a haven for investment flows looking for promising opportunities.
Selecting the UAE to host the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) 13th Ministerial Conference reflects the country’s prestigious global position on the map of international trade today, especially that this conference, which is seen as a turning point in the history of the organisation, will reshape the future of international trade to play its aspired role in revitalising global economy and stimulating its sustainable growth, as confirmed by President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who said that the UAE will work alongside 164 countries during this important global event to launch a new era of free trade for the benefit of humanity.
Source: Emirates News Agency