The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Thailand have agreed to begin negotiations to establish a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two countries, according to a joint statement signed by Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, and Jurin Laksanawisit, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce of Thailand. The first round of talks will begin in the UAE on 16 May, representing another important step in the UAE’s growth agenda and underlining the country’s role as a key enabler of global trade.

Al Zeyoudi highlighted the developing relationship between the UAE and Thailand, emphasising that the negotiations were a natural progression following the launch of the first UAE-Thai Business Council in February 2023. He also noted that Thailand is an increasingly important trade and investment partner for the UAE, with a well-developed services sector that contributes 58.3% of the nation’s GDP. A UAE-Thailand CEPA will build on the rapidly increasing non-oil trade between the two nations, which increased by 21% in 2022 to reach $6.1 billion. Sectors such as tourism, food security, IT, logistics, and financial services are expected to benefit from the agreement.

Thailand’s economy is projected to grow by 3.8% in 2023, driven by the rebound in the country’s vital tourism sector. The UAE’s principal exports to Thailand are ethylene polymers, gold, vegetable residues, delivery vehicles and parts, and electric batteries, while Thailand’s leading exports include office machinery and parts, motor vehicle parts, tires, and aluminium plating.

The UAE has concluded four CEPAs with India, Israel, Indonesia, and Turkey, with the first two already in force, and the signing of the other two agreements expected later. The UAE is currently in talks with other markets of strategic importance at the regional and global levels to establish similar agreements.