Skip to content Skip to Search
Skip navigation

UAE and NZ in talks to build on non-oil trade

A declaration of intent to begin Cepa talks was signed by UAE minister of state for foreign trade Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi and New Zealand trade minister Todd McClay Wam
A declaration of intent to begin Cepa talks was signed by Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, third from the left, and Todd McClay, second from the left
  • Non-oil trade worth $765m last year
  • ‘Exciting opportunities’ for nations
  • NZ in free-trade talks with GCC

The UAE has agreed to start negotiations on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (Cepa) with New Zealand as part of plans to boost the Gulf state’s foreign trade to AED4 trillion ($1.1 trillion) by 2031. 

A joint declaration of intent confirming the agreement has been signed by Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi and Todd McClay, the countries’ foreign trade ministers.

Bilateral non-oil trade reached $765 million in 2023, an increase of more than 15 percent on 2019, the year before the Covid pandemic struck.

The UAE is New Zealand’s largest trade partner in the Middle East. Exports hit $613 million in the year to September 2023, up 17 percent from the year before, according to New Zealand foreign ministry data.

Officials said the agreement will seek to remove or reduce tariffs and trade barriers in key sectors such as agriculture, renewable energy, logistics, education and healthcare.

Al Zeyoudi said a Cepa deal “will open up a range of exciting opportunities” for both nations with the UAE offering direct access to new markets for New Zealand’s exports, particularly in food and agricultural products.

McClay described the start of negotiations as an “exciting step towards cementing a significant trade and economic relationship”. 

“The UAE is a key export destination and hub in the Gulf region, and there are significant opportunities to enhance cooperation across a range of areas including agriculture and sustainable energy,” McClay said.

Foreign trade remains the cornerstone of the UAE’s economic agenda. In 2023 the UAE’s non-oil trade in goods reached an all-time high of $701 billion.

New Zealand is also in talks for a free-trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council, a regional body representing the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

A free-trade deal with the European Union came into effect on May 1 after New Zealand ratified it in March.

UAE-New Zealand trade

  • Emirates resumed flights of its A380 superjumbo to Christchurch last year after a hiatus of more than three years. Christchurch, on New Zealand’s South Island, is the smallest city in Emirates’ A380 network.
  • The UAE signed a partnership arrangement with Fiji and New Zealand in December to develop the second phase of the Lakaro Renewable Energy Project in Fiji. The UAE’s contribution of $1.5 million to the project on the islands of Lakeba, Kadevu and Rotuma aims to add a battery bank and replace diesel generators with a renewable energy system.
  • Abu Dhabi Investment Authority sold its stake in New Zealand property group Precinct Properties to the trans-Tasman investment bank Jarden Partners for $147 million in February.
  • GCC economies make up New Zealand’s eighth-largest trade partner, with exports led by dairy products, meat, cereal and fruit and nuts.

Latest articles

An investor at the Dubai International Financial Market. The share prices of four of the 20 Gulf companies that listed since early 2023 have at least doubled

Stock prices of Gulf companies surge after IPOs

Most Gulf companies that completed initial public offerings (IPOs) recently have seen their market capitalisation soar, with issuers pricing flotations adroitly to bolster investor demand for their stocks after listing. From the start of 2023 there have been 20 Gulf IPOs that raised at least $100 million. Combined, these sold $11.2 billion of shares. As […]

A welder at work in Ras Al Kaimah. The northern emirates will benefit from lower electricity tariffs under a new scheme for local manufacturers in the UAE

UAE to direct additional $6bn to local manufacturers

The UAE is to direct an additional AED23 billion ($6.3 billion) to local manufacturers as it strives to develop its homegrown sectors and diversify its economy away from a reliance on hydrocarbons. Abu Dhabi state oil company Adnoc will expand its local manufacturing procurement programme for critical industrial products by AED20 billion to AED90 billion […]

Workers at a Riyadh construction site. The Tonomus competition aims to find innovation in the sector

Saudi Arabia races to find technologies for futuristic cities

Saudi Arabia is urgently seeking new technologies for its construction and real estate sectors as it races to make good on its pledge to build futuristic multi-billion-dollar cities. Tonomus, a subsidiary of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s $500 billion signature Neom development, has joined forces with the Public Investment Fund to launch a competition offering […]

Riyadh Air Comac C919

Riyadh Air not buying from China’s Comac ‘for now’

Riyadh Air, Saudi Arabia’s new national carrier, will not consider China’s Comac for its narrowbody order to be announced later this year. However, the airline said it saw a future in Saudi Arabia for Comac, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, as the Chinese alternative to Boeing and Airbus.  “The narrowbody order is in its […]