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Australia-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement

Australia-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement

Working towards a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is Australia’s largest trade and investment partner in the Middle East. With $6.8 billion in two-way trade in 2020 (over $10 billion pre-COVID), the UAE is Australia’s 19th largest export market globally for goods and services.

Currently, Australia’s major exports include aluminium oxide, meat (beef, sheep, and lamb), vehicle parts and accessories, and telecom equipment and parts. There are further opportunities for Australian business in the UAE including in services, agriculture, education and tourism, particularly given the UAE’s position as a regional hub, and through increased investment and people-to-people links.

On 17 March 2022, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan and HE Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi Minister of State for Foreign Trade issued a joint statement announcing Australia and the UAE’s intention to pursue a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

Joint statement on the intent to pursue a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Australia

A trade agreement with the UAE would be a first for Australia in the Middle East and add to Australia’s existing network of trade agreements. The CEPA, a bilateral free trade agreement, has significant potential to strengthen and deepen the dynamic relationship between the two countries.

Previously, Australia and the UAE commenced negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in March 2005, which was subsumed into negotiations on an Australia-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) FTA. The negotiations with the GCC commenced in July 2007, with last negotiating round held in June 2009.

Consultations

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is seeking stakeholder submissions on particular opportunities and benefits for Australian exporters and importers in a prospective CEPA with the UAE. DFAT is particularly interested in details of specific impediments to trade and investment that the agreement could address. Information from stakeholders will inform the Australian Government’s approach to future negotiations.

Following the joint Ministerial announcement of the intention to pursue a CEPA, written submissions are requested by 30 April 2022, which can be emailed to UAECEPA@dfat.gov.au. However, DFAT will welcome submissions throughout the negotiations from interested individuals and groups.

A written submission on the UAE CEPA can also be made as part of a response to the request for stakeholder submissions to help inform the Australian Government’s approach to a potential future resumption of negotiations on an Australia-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Free Trade Agreement. Further information is available at Australia-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) FTA.

DFAT will continue to provide information and updates on this website. Requests for additional information can also be made by email to UAECEPA@dfat.gov.au

For more information on how to make a submission and possible issues stakeholders may wish to address, please visit Australia-United Arab Emirates CEPA submissions.

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