Ukraine and UAE to discuss trade deal

According to the UAE’s finance ministry, the United Arab Emirates and Ukraine decided on Monday to start negotiations for a bilateral trade agreement that is anticipated to be completed by the middle of next year. Despite Western pressure on Gulf oil producers to help isolate Russia, a fellow OPEC+ member, the UAE has made an effort to maintain neutrality in the Ukraine war.

The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) negotiations were announced in a joint statement signed by Ukrainian Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko and UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani Al Zeyoudi.

This would “help to drive Ukraine’s economic recovery and create new opportunities for exporters, investors and manufacturers, and facilitate collaboration in high-value sectors such as infrastructure, heavy industry, aviation, IT & food security,” Al Zeyoudi later tweeted.

After more than $3 billion in trade and investment commitments signed during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to the Gulf state in February 2021, it would be the UAE’s first such agreement with a European nation. According to the UAE ministry, non-oil trade with Ukraine was just over $900 million in 2021, up 12% from the previous year and nearly 29% from the year before.

“Ukraine is a key trade partner. The growth and investment potential was high before the whole geopolitical situation; we think it’s time to push things forward,” Al Zeyoudi said. “This is not only going to bring added value to the UAE, but also to Ukraine as well.”

The UAE is pushing for food security, thus these topics will certainly come up during discussions. The Middle East receives a lot of grain from Ukraine. According to Al Zeyoudi, a CEPA with Ukraine would give Ukraine’s industrial and agricultural products access to new markets in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

In an effort to strengthen its position as a global trade and logistics hub against increasing competition from Saudi Arabia, the UAE has negotiated free trade agreements with India, Israel, and Indonesia this year.

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