Bloomberg | 14 March 2022
UAE opens doors to wider trade as world veers toward protectionism
By Abeer Abu Omar
Since 2016, it’s been politically popular for many governments to turn economic policy inward and throw up protectionist barriers to trade. Russia’s war in Ukraine is only expected to accelerate this rewiring of globalization.
Other countries have been on a perhaps surprisingly different path, like the one taken recently by the United Arab Emirates. The oil-rich Gulf nation has been on a mission to lure billions of dollars worth of foreign investments and open itself up to more lanes for trade.
Last year, the UAE announced its intention to deepen its ties with fast-growing economies to reposition itself — already a big player in international commerce as the home of logistics giant DP World and Emirates SkyCargo — as a global destination for business and finance.
Facing growing competition from neighboring Saudi Arabia, the UAE has most recently signed a deal with India to cut duties on almost 90% of goods traded between the two countries, a step expected to enhance trade relationships and double non-oil trade to at least $100 billion over five years.
In February, during a visit by Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the two nations signed 13 cooperation deals and said that they will explore developing defense industry cooperation in order to get non-oil bilateral trade to exceed $30 billion within five years.
Thani Al Zeyoudi, the minister of state for foreign trade, told Bloomberg TV the country is close to finalizing more deals with Israel and Indonesia and hopes to conclude yet another agreement with Colombia soon. Economic diplomacy with Israel has warmed recently, too.
The trade pacts are expected to have a “huge impact” on the volume of foreign direct investment and bring in business from “all over the world,” Al Zeyoudi said.
The UAE’s top trade partners in 2020 were China, India, Japan, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.