Gulf Business | 29 March 2023
UAE, Costa Rica to launch free trade talks
The UAE and Costa Rica have agreed to start preliminary negotiations on a bilateral trade deal targeting a broad expansion of economic ties, according to the state-run news agency WAM.
The trade and investment exchanges between the two countries continue to grow as the non-oil trade reached $58.7m (Dhs216m) in 2022, a 19 per cent growth from a year earlier.
UAE minister of state for foreign trade Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi said the launch of preliminary comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) talks reflects the two countries’ shared aspirations to promote bilateral economic relations, boost investment and trade exchanges and create new joint investments and projects in priority sectors.
The negotiations are expected to lay the foundation for building a significant platform to future-proof economic and trade relations between the two states. The UAE’s investments in Costa Rica span sectors such as IT, tourism, retail, advertising, media, real estate, renewable energy, air transport and logistics.
UAE’s global ambitions
Meanwhile, the launch of free trade talks comes on the heels of the signing of the free trade pact with Israel into effect. The free trade agreement was signed in May 2022 and it removes or reduces tariffs on 96 per cent of goods traded between the nations.
The UAE launched the CEPA programme in September 2021 to expand its trade and investment partnership with several strategic global markets, increase the size of trade exchanges and enhance growth opportunities for national exports.
Since 2021, the country has signed four agreements so far – with India, Israel, Indonesia and Turkiye – and is currently in talks with others including South Korea and Ukraine as the Gulf nation remodels itself as a global hub for business and finance beyond the Middle East.
UAE Costa Rica trade talksA free trade agreement with Ukraine would be the Gulf nation’s first such deal with a European country, after more than $3bn in trade and investment pledges made during President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to the Gulf country in February 2021.
The UAE’s non-oil foreign trade achieved unprecedented growth and crossed the Dhs2tn mark for the first time in 2022, up 17 per cent from 2021, driven by free trade agreements. Al Zeyoudi underscored that the UAE will continue its efforts to build partnerships with strategic global markets under the CEPA programme.
The country’s trade ambitions are in line with the ‘We the UAE Vision 2031’, which aims to double the national economy from Dhs1.49tn to Dhs3tn, increase national non-oil exports to Dhs800bn and raise the value of the UAE’s foreign trade to Dhs4tn by 2031.
Earlier in March, the UAE signed off on a free trade pact with Turkey. The trade deal is expected to more than double bilateral trade volumes between the two countries to anywhere between $40bn and $45bn within the next five years.
The UAE pledged billions of dollars worth of investments in Turkey through government-affiliated entities on top of a $4.9bn currency swap agreement between the two countries.
India also signed a wide-ranging economic pact with the UAE, which is aimed at boosting trade and investment in February 2022. India’s exports to the Emirates include petroleum products, precious metals, gems and jewellery, and food items.
The country also signed an economic pact with Indonesia in July 2022 as the two countries seek to boost bilateral trade to more than $10bn by 2030. The Southeast Asia country sees its exports climbing 54 per cent over the next 10 years, as the deal erases as much as 94 per cent of existing tariffs.
The UAE plans to finalise a deal with Ukraine and Colombia in the future.