The UAE is no longer a regional gateway, but one to the whole world – with its ultimate aim being to reach 90 per cent of global trade, said a senior official on Wednesday.
“We are no more a gateway to the region but the whole world, and we ensure most of the global trade comes from us", said Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade at the World Green Economy Summit. "Our ultimate goal is to reach 90 per cent of global trade because of low customs tariffs in the UAE."
The UAE’s non-oil foreign trade grew 17 per cent in the first half of 2022 to surpass Dh1 trillion for the first time in the country’s history. These numbers reaffirmed the success of the country's strategic directions and visions in accelerating a full recovery following the negative repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic on international trade.
UAE targets next ‘G7’
Al Zeyoudi said the UAE is targeting the next “G7” countries which are set to be almost double the current G7 countries in terms of economic size.
“By 2050, the current G7 is going to be totally changed. There are going to be new G7 emerging economies – India, Indonesia, Turkey, Russia, South Korea, Mexico and South Africa. These countries are going to almost double the G7 now", Al Zeyoudi said during the summit.
"That is why we picked many of those for the CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement). We signed CEPA with India and are pursuing it with others – we are soon going to sign a deal with Turkey. We are going to have the same relations with [all those] that are going to be global economies.”
He added that the UAE’s ultimate goal is to reduce dependency on oil and ensure that revenues coming from oil and gas should be invested in diversification and futuristic sectors. “We were lucky that we have had the flexibility and agility to capitalise on this and ensure that we see not only the negative side, but also the positive side, to attract more companies and investments.”
Aggressive on FTAs, CEPA
The minister stressed that the UAE will continue to move aggressively on free trade agreements (FTAs) and CEPAs.
“We believe FTA or CEPA negotiations should not take more than a year and a half because the world is changing very fast. If counterparts are not willing to move with us at the same pace, we are not going to rest. Two to three years from now, economies are going to change and the sectors are going to be different.”
Al Zeyoudi revealed that the UAE is starting negotiations with some African nations very soon. “We just started talks with Georgia. We will capture opportunities in those countries that are going to see huge growth in the next five years; we are starting with Australia and some of the South American countries. We are likely to be one of the first entry into those countries,” the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade told attendees of the summit on Wednesday.
He revealed that Hong Kong managed to have automatic growth because of the high growth in China. “India is going to affect us similarly in a positive way for at least 25 years because we have the best infrastructure, financial system and strong services sectors which can be capitalised by Indian businesses,” he noted.
Citing an example of the benefits of FTAs, the minister added that Chile inked more than 130 FTAs and managed to double its economy in less than six years.
UAE’s neutral international economic diplomacy
Al Zeyoudi said the UAE will pursue neutrality in its economic policies as it is part of the country’s principles.
“Neutrality is going to run international economic diplomacy of the country, and we saw its benefit after Abraham Accord with Israel, resulting in a huge increase in trade numbers. The region will not be able to go anywhere without direct dialogue. We are going to be neutral for the sake of the peace and prosperity of the region,” he said.
What will UAE showcase at COP28?
The minister revealed that the UAE will showcase its economy, and the country that it managed to build sustainably in the past 50 years.
“We managed to reduce dependency on oil and we are going to continue to do so. We have not done it alone, but in an inclusive way in cooperation with all partners.
We managed to build a strong renewable energy sector, thanks to Dubai Water and Electricity and Authority (Dewa) and Masdar’s progress in renewables. We have strong huge international investments, and we are going to see up to 100 and 200 GWs of energy production through renewables.”
In order to reduce carbon emissions, the minister added that the UAE is working with semi-government firms for the shipment route between Turkey and UAE. “It takes up to 30 days for goods to reach Turkey, and we are experimenting with a route that will take 12 days through roads from Iraq/Iran to Turkey – thus reducing carbon footprint and cost of transporting goods,” he said.
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