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UAE in intensive talks to forge strategic economic partnerships

posted on 27/11/2006: 2106 views

The UAE is intensifying its efforts to strike economic and trade partnerships and free trade agreements with its strategic partners and major economic blocs around the world.

At the top of the UAE's list of strategic partnership priorities come Germany, France, South Korea and other European and Asian countries. Negotiations are currently underway with the US to conclude a free trade agreement with the world's economic giant.

The UAE is also engaged in collective talks between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on the one hand and each of the European Union (EU), the European Free Trade Association (comprising Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), China, Pakistan, India and Turkey on the other.

Such a policy is in harmony with a global trend towards forging strategic partnerships, liberalisation of trade and open markets since the volume of foreign trade is deemed an influential factor for the country's economy and an indicative of the economic strength.

The UAE's foreign trade with the outside world has made great stride in recent years. Figures indicate that foreign trade represents 149 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and, with the country getting more engaged in the global economy, this is expected to gather more speed during the current year. Commodity exports are anticipated to top Dh514 billion, growing by 21 per cent from 2005 with oil's share forming 40 per cent of these exports.

The commodity imports this year are set to surge by 3 per cent from last year to reach Dh306 billion.

Statistics further show that the trade balance surplus in 2005 has jumped to Dh127 billion from around Dh69 billion in 2004. The Economy Ministry's data reveal that India is UAE's No.1 trade partner with non-oil exports to the South Asian country in 2004 reaching Dh2.33 billion, that was 21.5 per cent of UAE's total exports that year. Imports from India in the same year touched Dh26.70 billion, or 15.7 per cent of the total imports.

Iran ranked second in terms of UAE's exports totalling Dh1.26 billion, followed by Saudi Arabia with Dh693 million and China Dh667 million. China, however, is the UAE's second major trade partner in terms of imports which amounted to around AED 20 billion, or 11.7 per cent, followed by Japan with Dh16 billion (9.8%) and US with Dh14 billion (8.3%).

At the forefront of all trade talks emerge that with the USA, with whom the UAE seeks to reach a free trade agreement, which, if struck, will enable the UAE's economy to sustain its steady growth as the second largest in the Arab world, striving to become the largest of all economies in the region. (Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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