The United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Cambodia have finalized the terms of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), paving the way for a new era of trade and investment cooperation between the two nations. The successful conclusion of negotiations was confirmed with the signing of a joint statement by His Excellency Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, and His Excellency PAN Sorasak, Cambodia’s Minister of Commerce.
The CEPA with Cambodia will serve as a catalyst to increase and diversify bilateral trade by substantially eliminating tariffs, reducing non-tariff trade barriers and promoting trade in goods, services and investment. It builds on growing UAE-Cambodia economic relations that, in 2022, resulted in non-oil trade exceeding US$401 million, which represents a growth of 31 percent compared to 2021 – and 146 percent more on the pre-Covid year of 2019. In terms of investments, bilateral FDI had reached US$3.8 million by the end of 2020.
The Cambodian economy is one of the most promising in South-East Asia, enjoying 5.1 percent growth in 2022. This deal will deliver new opportunities for its key exports, which include grains, fruits, meats, processed foods, apparel, footwear and leather goods. The UAE will benefit from new export opportunities in machinery, oils and lubricants, and cars and automotive parts, as well as investment opportunities in logistics and infrastructure, travel and tourism projects and renewable energy.
H.E. Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi heralded the signing as another important step in the UAE’s foreign trade agenda, which was launched in September 2021. “Cambodia is one of the fastest-growing economies in South-East Asia and this deal will help strengthen East-West supply chains, deliver an important new market for our manufacturers, investors and service providers, and offer their exporters an important platform for global expansion. Cambodia’s food production and agricultural sectors, which are a critical part of their economy, will also help us achieve our food security ambitions. The negotiations took less than six months to complete, which is a clear indication of our shared desire to boost bilateral relations and create new, mutually beneficial opportunities.”
H.E. PAN Sorasak reiterated the shared view on the great prospects to which the UAE-Cambodia CEPA will lead in alignment with Cambodia’s consistent adherence to trade liberalization. “The conclusion of the negotiations surely culminates in our shared view and common understanding on all elements of our Cambodia-UAE CEPA. Since the UAE-Cambodia CEPA initiation, we do believe that this agreement will definitely be another great impetus for our shared growth and prosperity through fostering supply chains, enhancing trade flow, and promoting bilateral investment between Cambodia and UAE. Indeed, the agreement will serve as the catalyst for greater connectivity between ASEAN and the Arab World, which are amongst the most economically dynamic regions in the world.”
The UAE’s new foreign trade agenda is a core component of the nation’s growth strategy that seeks to double the size of the economy from US$381 billion to US$762 billion by 2030. The UAE has now signed CEPAs with India, Israel, Indonesia and Turkiye, and is set to conclude negotiations with other strategically important nations in the coming weeks.
The Royal Government of Cambodia is supportive of globalization by means of opening up international trade to ensure that cooperation is at the heart of sustainable and inclusive economic development. To this end, Cambodia has achieved bilateral FTAs respectively with China and South Korea, and mega FTAs under ASEAN and RCEP.
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