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UAE announces ‘huge stride’ free-trade deal with Georgia

Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, and Levan Davitashvili, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, WAM
Levan Davitashvili and Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi mark the signing of the free trade deal, which was struck after just three rounds of negotiations
  • The UAE is Georgia’s largest trade partner among Arab countries
  • Trade between the two grew 110 percent in 2022
  • The UAE plans 26 free trade deals worldwide

The UAE-Georgia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa) for free trade was signed in Tbilisi on Friday.

Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE minister of state for foreign trade, said the deal “represented another huge stride forward” in the country’s foreign trade agenda “and signals our ambition to build a truly global network of trade partners”.

It follows similar trade deals recently inked with India, Israel, Indonesia and Turkey.

In 2022, bilateral non-oil trade between the UAE and Georgia was worth $468 million, representing 110 percent year-on-year growth.

The UAE accounts for around two-thirds of the total volume of Georgia’s trade with Arab countries, while its investments into Georgia account for 5 percent of its total FDI. This makes the UAE Georgia’s sixth-largest global investor.

Al Zeyoudi added: “Georgia is an economy based on free-market principles that holds considerable promise for our exporters and investors, and we look forward to developing opportunities in priority sectors such as agriculture, transportation, tourism, renewable energy and digital trade.”

Levan Davitashvili, Georgia’s vice prime minister and minister of economy and sustainable development, revealed the deal was struck after just three rounds of negotiations between the two countries.

“I am certain that this agreement will serve as a solid basis for further enhancement of trade and investment cooperation between our countries,” he added.

The UAE aims to sign 26 Cepa deals under plans announced earlier this month by economy minister Abdulla bin Touq.

Cepa deals are believed to be close to completion with Kenya and Ukraine, while a third round of discussions on a GCC-wide agreement with the UK got under way in Riyadh on Sunday.

Scott Livermore, chief economist at Oxford Economics Middle East, previously told AGBI: “From a macro perspective the impact of these deals is likely to be small, although there will be benefits. 

“They show that the UAE is seeking a broad set of free trade relationships, and also values emerging and niche markets rather than just targeting the largest markets.”

The UAE’s new foreign trade agenda is part of the nation’s growth strategy that seeks to double the size of the economy from $381 billion to $762 billion by 2030.

Trade deals will play a crucial role in helping the UAE to reach its “ultimate” goal of accessing 90 percent of global trade flows, Al Zeyoudi said in a speech in London earlier this month.

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