CEPA: UAE and New Zealand to launch talks for a free trade deal
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CEPA: UAE, New Zealand launch talks for a free trade deal

CEPA: UAE, New Zealand launch talks for a free trade deal

The UAE is New Zealand’s largest trade partner in the Middle East

Gulf Business

New Zealand and the UAE will begin negotiations over a free trade agreement, the Pacific nation’s trade minister said on Tuesday.

New Zealand’s Trade Minister Todd McClay met Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade in Dubai to announce the start of talks on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), according to a statement from his office on Tuesday.

A joint declaration of intent confirming the agreement was signed after the talks.

CEPA potential

The proposed CEPA reflects growing bilateral relations, with non-oil trade between the UAE and New Zealand reaching US$764.5m in 2023, an increase of more than 15 percent over the pre-Covid year of 2019.

The agreement will seek to boost those numbers through the removal or reduction of tariffs and trade barriers, the improvement of market access, and the establishment of investment pathways that will open up new opportunities in key sectors such as agriculture, renewable energy, logistics, education, professional services and healthcare.

Dr Al Zeyoudi said, “New Zealand has become a valued trade partner for the UAE, one that shares our conviction that open, rules-based trade is an essential driver of sustainable economic growth.

“A Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement will open up a range of exciting opportunities for both nations, with the UAE offering direct access to new markets for New Zealand’s exports, particularly in food and agricultural products, while our services exporters and investors will be able to explore a range of high-value sectors. We are both eager to get started.”

UAE-New Zealand trade

The UAE is New Zealand’s largest trade partner in the Middle East and exports hit NZ$1.02bn ($613m) in the year to September 2023, up 17  per cent from the year before, according to New Zealand foreign ministry data.

McClay said, “Today’s launch of negotiations is an exciting step towards cementing a significant trade and economic relationship. This follows the conclusion of successful exploratory discussions, as well as public consultation, which demonstrated the importance of pursuing a high-quality agreement to boost our economy and unlock greater export opportunities.”

“The UAE is an important bilateral partner for New Zealand, and today’s launch of negotiations is an exciting step towards growing our significant trade and economic relationship,” he said.

Read: UAE, Ukraine finalise terms of CEPA deal

New Zealand is also in talks for a free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council. McClay said he discussed the talks on his visit to Saudi Arabia last week.

A free trade deal with the European Union came into effect on May 1 after New Zealand ratified the deal in March.

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