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Turkey, UAE ink free trade deal in latest thaw

The deal marks a new height in improving ties between Ankara and Abu Dhabi after years of locking horns.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan pose as they attend a signing ceremony regarding the agreements between the two countries at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, on November 24, 2021.  (Photo by ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Turkey and the United Arab Emirates signed a free trade agreement on Friday. 

Addressing his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and other officials virtually, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the deal as “historical.”

“The agreement marks a new era in our economic and commercial relations,” Erdogan said. He added that the countries were aiming to increase their mutual trade volume to $25 billion in five years through the agreement. The volume of mutual trade between the countries currently stands close to some $8 billion annually, with the UAE being the 10th largest overseas market for Turkish contractors. 

The deal marks a new height in swiftly improving ties between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates after a years-long deep freeze over several regional and bilateral disagreements, including Ankara’s staunch support of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Libyan conflict. Erdogan had once accused the Emirates of funding the 2016 failed coup and threatened to sever ties with the Gulf country over the Abraham Accords

A regional charm offensive Ankara launched in late 2021 aiming to restore Turkey’s ties with former regional foes, namely Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Israel and Egypt, culminated in Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s landmark visit to Ankara in 2021. The crown prince’s visit followed a return visit by Erdogan in early 2022 during which the two countries inked several cooperation deals, including a $5 billion currency swap deal. The parties also agreed to work for the free trade deal during that visit.

“The progress in the Turkey-UAE relations is a matter of pride for us,” Erdogan said, also thanking Abu Dhabi for dispatching humanitarian aid and rescue teams to help relief efforts after the two killer earthquakes that struck southeast Turkey and northern Syria on Feb. 6.

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