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HomeEconomyUAE Eyes Serbia Trade Deal as CEPA Blitz Continues

UAE Eyes Serbia Trade Deal as CEPA Blitz Continues

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The United Arab Emirates and Serbia are in discussions to establish a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), as the country’s foreign ministers met in New York on Tuesday during the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

The UAE plans to expand its global trading partners targeting $1.09 trillion in non-oil foreign trade by 2031 and to help achieve its aim, it is looking to sign a series of CEPAs — free trade deals that lower tariffs, strengthen market access for importers and exporters and create new investment opportunities between the countries concerned. The Gulf state surpassed $610 billion in non-oil foreign trade in 2022, representing a 17% growth from the year before, according to the UAE Ministry of Economy.

On Monday, the Emirati and Serbian ministers of foreign trade held the first round of talks in Dubai to launch a CEPA. UAE Minister of Foreign Trade Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi and Serbia’s Minister of Internal and Foreign Trade Tomislav Momirovic convened to boost trade and investment exchange between the two nations. No set trade amounts or targets were announced.

“The Republic of Serbia is committed to supporting and stimulating the private sector and attracting new foreign investments to the country,” said Momirovic on Monday, according to WAM.

Zeyoudi stated the agreement will increase access to global supply chains and enable long-term partnerships for private sector investment.

“Serbia is an emerging economy in an increasingly important part of Europe, with strategic links to many vital markets in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, while the UAE can serve as Serbia’s gateway to markets in the Middle East, Asia and Africa,” he said in a statement, reported WAM.

The UAE currently has CEPAs set with TurkeyIsrael, Indonesia, Cambodia, India and Georgia. The National reported Wednesday that the UAE is to finalise CEPAS with Pakistan, South Korea and Thailand in the next three weeks, citing remarks made by Zeyoudi at the Global Trade & Supply Chain Summit in Dubai on Tuesday.

The UAE-Serbia CEPA negotiations take place after ongoing high-level meetings between the two countries, including a visit in June when UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed met with Serbian President Aleksander Vucic in Belgrade. The two leaders signed multiple agreements in sectors such as renewable energy, artificial intelligence, agriculture and more.

Bilateral non-oil trade between the economic partners reached $57.6 million in the first half of 2023, which surpassed their entire 2020 non-oil trade value, reported WAM. 

The UAE is the third-largest market for Serbian exports in the Middle East, with foreign direct investment (FDI) flowing into sectors including agriculture, food security, real estate, infrastructure and logistics.

The UAE was the fourth-largest source of net foreign direct investment in Serbia from 2010 to 2019, making up 3.1% of Serbia’s total FDI inflows behind the European Union, Russia and China in that order, according to the Middle East Institute in Washington.

The UAE is home to over 5,000 Serbian residents. There are 207 Serbian companies registered with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, with 40 new additions between January and June, reported the nonprofit organization in July.

On Tuesday, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Emirati minister of foreign affairs, and Ivica Dacic, Serbia’s first deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, held meetings to discuss cooperation in areas of trade, business, investment, technology and food security among other sectors while in New York, reported state-owned Emirates News Agency (WAM) on Tuesday. 

The talks on the UNGA sidelines also covered climate change, as the UAE prepares to host the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai in late November.

Source: Al Monitor

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