Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are expected to sign a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) by the end of 2024, after completing most of the negotiations.
The CEPA will be a milestone in the bilateral relations between the two countries, which have seen significant growth in trade and investment in recent years. The CEPA will also bring mutual benefits and opportunities for both countries, as they seek to enhance their cooperation in various fields.
The CEPA will create a legal framework and a favorable environment for the two countries to increase their trade and investment flows, and to take advantage of their potential and complementarities. The CEPA will eliminate or reduce tariffs and non-tariff barriers, and provide preferential access and protection for goods and services, as well as investors and investments, of both countries.
Currently, the UAE is the largest export market and the second-largest trade partner of Vietnam in West Asia, following Kuwait. In 2023, Vietnam’s exports to the UAE exceeded US$4 billion, while imports from the UAE surpassed $676 million, with a year-on-year increase of 4.3% and 16%, respectively. Vietnam’s main exports to the UAE include mobile phones, computers, electrical products, seafood, textiles, and more. The country imports raw plastics, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), petroleum products, and other materials from the UAE.
The CEPA is expected to further expand and diversify the trade and investment portfolio of both countries, and to open up new markets and sectors for cooperation, such as energy, agriculture, industry, infrastructure, and digital transformation.
Growing cooperation in various fields
The agreement was reached during a meeting between Vietnam’s Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyễn Hồng Diên and UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi in Hà Nội on Wednesday.
The two ministers hailed the significant growth of the Vietnam-UAE economic and trade cooperation in recent years, with both countries expanding collaboration in various fields, such as energy, agriculture, industry, and infrastructure.
Minister Diên said that the UAE is an important partner and a gateway for Vietnam to access the Middle East and Africa markets, and that Vietnam is willing to cooperate with the UAE in areas of mutual interest and benefit. He also urged the UAE to facilitate business delegation exchanges, organize trade promotion activities, and encourage UAE businesses to invest in Vietnam.
Minister Al Zeyoudi said that the UAE values and appreciates the strategic partnership with Vietnam, and that the UAE is keen to enhance its economic and trade relations with Vietnam, especially in the post-pandemic recovery period. He also expressed his support for Vietnam’s initiatives and proposals to strengthen bilateral cooperation.
The CEPA will also enhance the cooperation and integration of both countries, not only in the economic sphere, but also in the political, social, and cultural spheres. The CEPA will strengthen the strategic partnership and the mutual trust between the two countries, and will foster the dialogue and consultation on regional and international issues of common interest and concern.
The CEPA will also promote the people-to-people exchanges and the cultural understanding between the two countries, which have different backgrounds and traditions, but share common values and aspirations. The CEPA will facilitate the mobility and the interaction of the businesspeople, the professionals, the students, and the tourists of both countries, and will encourage the cooperation and the exchange of knowledge and experience in various fields.
Expediting the CEPA negotiation process
Both sides expressed the intention to cooperate closely to expedite the Vietnam-UAE CEPA negotiation process and reach a conclusion soon. The CEPA is expected to create a legal framework and a favorable environment for the two countries to increase their trade and investment flows, and to take advantage of their potential and complementarities.
The CEPA will also help both countries to face the challenges and opportunities in the post-pandemic era, and to achieve their development goals and visions. The CEPA will support both countries to recover and grow from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and to enhance their resilience and competitiveness in the global market. The CEPA will also support both countries to address the common challenges and opportunities, such as climate change, digital transformation, innovation, and sustainable development.
The CEPA will also contribute to the peace and stability of the region and the world, and to the multilateral trade system and the rules-based international order. The CEPA will be a model and a catalyst for the cooperation and integration between the ASEAN and the GCC, as well as between Asia and the Middle East. The CEPA will also be a testament and a demonstration of the friendship and the partnership between Vietnam and the UAE.