DUBAI, Sept. 14 (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates will follow an ambitious timetable to negotiate economic deals with eight countries with which it wants to deepen their trade relations, hoping to be able to conclude some of those negotiations within a year, said its Minister of Commerce. Tuesday.
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 UAE would bilaterally pursue what Al Zeyoudi called comprehensive economic agreements with the eight countries on trade, foreign direct investment and sectors like tourism.
The other countries with which the UAE has said it wants 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. Read more
Al Zeyoudi said the UAE is focused on strengthening its own economy and, without naming Saudi Arabia, does not pay attention to 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 restore strained ties with the regional powerhouse, Turkey and its neighbor, Qatar.
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 “.
Reporting by Alexander Cornwell, editing by William Maclean and Angus MacSwan
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