New Zealand and UAE launch exploratory trade talks
The Government's trade agenda took another step forward today with the announcement in Dubai that New Zealand will start exploratory discussions on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor announced.
Damien O’Connor held talks with the Minister of State for Foreign Trade Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi and with Minister of State for International Cooperation Reem Al Hashimy during his visit.
“I informed my counterpart Dr Thani that New Zealand sees very good reason to explore areas of mutual interest and strengthen our understanding of the benefits of a CEPA,” Damien O’Connor said.
“The UAE is a significant trading partner for New Zealand, with exports approaching $1 billion per annum. It’s also a hub for New Zealand Inc operations into the region and a key component of New Zealand’s air connectivity to the Middle East and beyond.”
“The UAE has been negotiating CEPAs with a range of its trading partners in recent years and proposed we also consider such an agreement. It was raised most recently when I met Minister of State Reem Al Hashimy during her visit to New Zealand earlier this year.
“There is also considerable potential for our exporters in such a trade agreement to enhance bilateral cooperation across a range of important areas, including agriculture, services, government procurement, sustainability and reducing non-tariff barriers.
“The prospect of a New Zealand-United Arab Emirates CEPA would send an important signal about the value we place on building strong rules-based trade architecture,” Damien O’Connor said.
Minister Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi welcomed the development.
“New Zealand is a valued partner for the UAE in the Oceania region, and a nation that shares our firm belief in open, rules-based trade as a catalyst for sustainable economic growth,” Dr Thani said.
UAE is host of the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference 13 in February 2024.
“New Zealand stands ready to assist the UAE and the rest of the WTO membership to secure concrete outcomes next year, and my time in Dubai provided a great opportunity to meet with my counterpart and offer our assistance,” Damien O’Connor said.
Damien O’Connor also travelled to Saudi Arabia on 29 – 30 August for trade-focussed discussions with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) General Secretary Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi, the Saudi Minister for Commerce Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi and agriculture counterpart Minister Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli.
During those meetings, he reaffirmed New Zealand's ongoing commitment to finalising the New Zealand GCC-FTA and discussed outstanding issues that require resolution before concluding the negotiation.
“We look forward to working with the GCC to conclude that wider regional negotiation as soon as possible,” Damien O’Connor said.
“We have very good momentum on trade, with four new FTAs signed and three upgraded since 2017 and we remain focussed on opening more market opportunities for our exporters.”