DUBAI - Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, met Pham Minh Chinh, Prime Minister of Vietnam, during his visit to the UAE as the head of a high-level delegation of senior Vietnamese officials and business leaders participating in COP28 at Expo City in Dubai.

The meeting comes as the UAE and Vietnam are finalising the terms of their Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which aims to launch a new era of economic cooperation and growth between the two close trading partners.

Al Zeyoudi and Chinh discussed the importance of private-sector collaboration and the need to establish partnerships to increase bilateral trade and investment flows. The meeting was held in the presence of representatives of leading UAE companies, including Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, Abu Dhabi Ports and DP World, along with high-level officials from Vietnam's public sector and business community.

During the meeting, AD Ports and the Vietnamese Maritime Administration signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to create a strategic partnership that will develop commercial opportunities. A Memorandum of Understanding was also exchanged between the Vietnamese Ministry of Information and Communications and Abu Dhabi-based Sirius International Holding Company, a leader in green technology, digital transformation and health tech.

Al Zeyoudi said, "Vietnam is an important trade and investment partner for the UAE and our largest trade partner in the ASEAN region, with a vibrant economy rich in potential. Our leadership shares a strong desire to see our economic relations expand further by creating and mutually beneficial opportunities for our private sector companies to increase collaboration in priority sectors. We are committed to developing a strong, long-term partnership that will drive economic growth for both countries."

Vietnam accounted for 27% of the UAE's total trade with the ASEAN bloc in 2022, with total bilateral trade reaching $8.7 billion - a 30% increase compared to the previous year. UAE's non-oil trade with Vietnam also increased by more than 21% in 2022, reaching approximately $300 million.

After completing a number of rounds of negotiations, the UAE and Vietnam are in the process of concluding a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). The agreement is expected to expand bilateral non-oil trade by removing or reducing customs duties on a wide range of goods and services and removing unnecessary barriers to trade.

The CEPA will increase market access to Vietnam for the UAE's metallurgy, machinery, financial and professional services sectors, while in return, Vietnamese exports, including coffee, textiles and agriculture, will gain increased access to international markets due to the UAE's role as a global trading hub, connecting markets in the east and the west.