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UAE, Peru announce free trade talks

Arab News | 27 February 2024
By Lucien Chauvin

UAE, Peru announce free trade talks

Montevideo, Uruguay: The UAE and Peru have announced that they will start talks for a free trade agreement later this year.

The announcement came on the sidelines of a World Trade Organization meeting in Abu Dhabi, and builds on a decision by Peru earlier this month to open an embassy in the UAE. The two countries previously signed other agreements, including an aviation pact last year.

If the free trade agreement is reached, it would be a first for Peru with a country in the Middle East and North Africa, and the first for the UAE in the Americas.

Bilateral trade was just over $1 billion last year, with Peru exporting $1.03 billion to the UAE — most of it gold — and importing $44 million from the Gulf state.

Peru’s government hopes a free trade agreement will help ramp up its exports. Its Foreign Trade and Tourism Ministry reported that the UAE, with a population of over 9 million, imports more than 90 percent of the food it consumes. Peru wants to fill part of that demand.

The country is the world’s top exporter of grapes, and among the world leaders in avocado and blueberry exports.

It is also a key fishing country, exporting fish for human consumption, as well as fishmeal and fish oil for industry. The ministry also sees opportunities for garments and other manufactured products.

Emirati exports to Peru are primarily petroleum-based products, with some manufactured goods such as lighting components.

DP World, the UAE-based logistics company, operates key port installations in Peru and has invested more than $700 million there since 2018.

A free trade agreement could be a stepping stone to larger markets for both countries. Peru has 19 such deals, including with China, the EU and the US.

It is actively negotiating a deal with India, with the last round held in mid-February. It was also negotiating with Turkey but talks have stalled.

The UAE has a limited number of free trade agreements outside its immediate geographic area, primarily through the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The GCC signed an agreement with South Korea in December, and one with Pakistan has been concluded. It is also negotiating with Britain, China and Japan.

The GCC has few non-petroleum ties with Latin America and the Caribbean, but that could be changing.

It has made initial overtures for an agreement with the Southern Common Market, which includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The UAE and Guyana, South America’s only English-speaking country, have been strengthening ties.

The UAE announced in November that it would open an embassy in Guyana’s capital Georgetown. Bilateral trade is close to $1 billion.

The deal with Peru would be through bilateral negotiation instead of with the GCC. The same is true for any potential deal with Guyana.

 source: Arab News