DUBAI, 1st September, 2023 (WAM) -- Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, has received Damien O'Connor, New Zealand's Minister of Trade and Export Growth, in Dubai as the two nations explore deeper economic collaboration, including the pursuit of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.
During the meeting, which came as part of a visit to the UAE by a delegation of New Zealand's leading trade officials, Al Zeyoudi commended the strong relations shared by the two nations and reaffirmed the common vision to enhance cooperation across key sectors such as agriculture, renewable energy, and healthcare.
Al Zeyoudi also shared updates on preparations for the World Trade Organisation's 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13), which will be held in Abu Dhabi in 2024.
The UAE and New Zealand already share a productive trade relationship, with non-oil trade reaching US$805 million in 2022, a growth of 7 percent compared to 2021 and 23 percent more than in 2020. As of 2022, the UAE is New Zealand's leading trading partner in the Arab World, accounting for 2.5 percent of New Zealand's total foreign trade.
Al Zeyoudi emphasised that a UAE-New Zealand CEPA would significantly boost these figures. He said, "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. As we seek to expand our network of trading partners, exploring a potential Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement demonstrates our commitment to delivering new markets and new opportunities for our private sector. We can now look forward to establishing the parameters of a future-facing, resilient and mutually beneficial deal."
O'Connor, in turn, said, "These exploratory discussions are an important first step toward a trade agreement with the UAE, one of our key export destinations in the region and a valued bilateral partner for New Zealand."
The talks follow the recent visit to New Zealand by Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation, and the signing of a number of bilateral agreements, including an MoU between the UAE's Etihad Credit Export Insurance and the New Zealand Export Credit Agency on securing export credit, and an MoA on food security signed between the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
A cornerstone of the "We the UAE 2031" economic vision, which seeks to push non-oil foreign trade beyond AED4 trillion by the end of the decade, the UAE's CEPA programme is solidifying ties with strategic allies at an accelerated pace. A total of five agreements have been signed to date, with India, Israel, Turkey, Indonesia and Cambodia, each designed to accelerate economic recovery and secure vital supply chains.
The New Zealand delegation to the UAE included Dr. Richard Kay, Ambassador of New Zealand to the UAE; Wendy Matthews, Director-General of the Trade Policy and Negotiations Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Jonathan Curr, Director-General of the Middle East and Africa Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Sean O'Brien, Press Secretary to the Minister for Trade and Export Growth; Rebecca Good, Private Secretary to Minister for Trade and Export Growth; Sammy O'Hara, Policy Officer, Trade Policy and Negotiations Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade; and Jessica Minehan-Fitzgerald, New Zealand Embassy Abu Dhabi.