The United Arab Emirates (UAE) will follow an ambitious timetable to negotiate economic agreements with eight countries with which they wish to deepen their trade relations, hoping to conclude some of these negotiations within a year, its minister of the Republic said on Tuesday. Trade.
The Gulf state, already a hub for global trade, this month announced plans to strengthen trade and economic ties with India, Britain, Turkey and South Korea, between others.
“We really hope that (…) at least the first ones will be concluded within six months to a year. So we are talking about very aggressive and rapid work and rapid negotiations,” said the Minister of State at Foreign trade Thani al. -Zeyoudi told Reuters in an online interview.
He did not identify any country.
The United Arab Emirates is seeking to conclude bilaterally what al-Zeyoudi called comprehensive economic agreements with the eight countries on trade, foreign direct investment and sectors like tourism.
Other countries with which the UAE hopes to deepen its trade relations are Ethiopia, Indonesia, Israel and Kenya.
The UAE’s combined annual non-oil trade with the eight countries was nearly $ 70 billion at pre-pandemic levels, according to the government. Officials estimate, for example, that non-oil trade with India could increase from $ 40 billion a year before the pandemic to $ 100 billion within five years of an economic deal being struck.
Pressure from the UAE to strengthen its status as a Middle East trade hub comes after it was hit hard by the pandemic with its economy contracting last year, and as it faces a growing economic competition from Saudi Arabia.
Al-Zeyoudi, without naming Saudi Arabia, said the UAE focuses on strengthening its own economy and ignores what others are doing in the region, while adding that economic competition between the states was natural and healthy.
The renewed focus on the economy also follows a reset in its assertive foreign policy that has prompted it to take steps to mend strained ties with the regional powerhouse, Turkey and its neighbor, Qatar.
Turkey and the United Arab Emirates recently entered swift talks, signaling that relations are resuming as a truce between the two countries eased tensions after a years-long rift.
But with political differences lingering, the two countries should focus on building economic ties and de-escalating, rather than resolving, an ideological divide that has drawn a fault line across the Middle East.
Finally, President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄan and UAE de facto leader Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ) spoke by phone late last month following contact between intelligence services and government officials.
After meeting with UAE National Security Advisor Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan last month, ErdoÄan said the two countries have made progress in improving relations, which could lead to significant investments. from the United Arab Emirates to Turkey.
The UAE wants economic and trade relations with these countries, as well as with the Iranian regional power, al-Zeyoudi said.
Al-Zeyoudi, who is in the United States, also said he had discussed US tariffs on imports of aluminum and steel from the United Arab Emirates with his US counterparts and that he hoped the issue would be “settled”.