H.E. Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi Highlights U.A.E. Free Trade Agreements and Shares Insight into Regional Competition, Opportunities for Partnership


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May 1, 2023

The U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council convened its Board of Directors for a conversation on Monday May 1st in Washington, D.C. with U.A.E. Minister of State for Foreign Trade, His Excellency Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi. The discussion highlighted the U.A.E.’s recently-signed trade agreements with countries across the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, as well as key areas of public sector collaboration, including sustainability, digital transformation, artificial intelligence, and logistics.  

H.E. Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi discussed the bilateral free trade agreements and Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements (CEPA) that the U.A.E. has signed in the past year with countries such as Cambodia, Georgia, India, Israel, and Turkey. H.E. noted that the CEPAs provide trade liberalization and increased bilateral investment opportunities in markets new to the U.A.E., and that he anticipates the signing of many other CEPAs this year including ones with Ukraine, Vietnam, Thailand, and countries in Africa. H.E. encouraged U.S. businesses operating in the U.A.E. to make best use of these advantageous agreements in growing their business in all of these countries.  

H.E. encouraged the U.S. business community to get involved in COP 28, which will be held in Dubai in November 2023. He underscored the U.A.E.’s view that “the private sector will bring the main solutions to the table” at this COP, setting a precedent of international public-private sustainability partnerships for years to come. H.E. also encouraged the U.S. business representatives in the room to engage with U.A.E. private sector companies, in addition to government authorities, for partnerships in sustainability, agriculture, and clean energy. 

The Minister discussed relevant policy changes that impact U.S. companies doing business in the U.A.E., including the recently implemented 9% corporate tax, which will go into effect later this year. H.E. shared insight into the changes to digital data laws, with a particular focus on healthcare and patient data, and he noted the important role of G42 in managing and collecting such data at the federal and emirate level.

H.E. Dr. Al Zeyoudi spoke about the U.A.E.’s development as not only a regional hub for business, but a global hub for South-South trade, and discussed how international geopolitical trends impact foreign trade and investment. Competition among the U.A.E.’s neighbors and even between Emirates, H.E. noted, is welcomed and beneficial for the region’s economic development. 

Mohamed Al Musharrakh, CEO of the Sharjah FDI Office, also shared insight into the investment opportunities in Sharjah, especially for SME’s in the areas of technology, agriculture, logistics, and tourism.

Dr. Al Zeyoudi is leading the U.A.E.’s delegation to the SelectUSA 2023 summit being held in Washington, D.C. from 1-4 May. For more information about this event, please contact Graham Reitman at greitman@usuaebusiness.org.