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UAE, Ukraine conclude trade deal talks, Emirates to help post-war reconstruction

Ukraine’s bilateral trade has sharply fallen since Russia invaded the country in February 2022.
Finalization of a historic Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between Ukraine and the UAE.

The United Arab Emirates and Ukraine have concluded negotiations for a bilateral trade deal, the two countries said in a joint statement Monday.

Ukraine’s bilateral trade has sharply fallen since Russia invaded the country in February 2022. Despite Western pressure to isolate Russia since it invaded its neighbor, the Gulf country has tried to take a neutral stance over the war on Ukraine, as Moscow — a fellow OPEC+ member — is an important ally. The UAE’s business capital, Dubai, has long been a popular destination for Russians and Ukrainians.

The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the UAE and Ukraine will remove or reduce tariffs on a range of goods and products, remove trade barriers and ease market access to exporters from both sides, the statement said. Negotiations for the CEPA began at the end of 2022.

The CEPA will also "support Ukraine's recovery and the rebuilding of key industries and infrastructure, while also helping to strengthen supply chains to the (Middle East and North Africa) region for major exports such as grains, machinery and metals,” the statement added.

Non-oil UAE-Ukraine trade reached $386 million in 2023, down from more than $800 million before the Russian invasion, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani Al Zeyoudi told Bloomberg.

Ukraine's Ministry of Economy hopes that the CEPA will boost the European country’s gross domestic product by 0.1% in the medium to long term. 

“Ukraine is a bridge for our exports to Europe and an important source for our imports related to food security,” Zeyoudi said in the statement. The pact “will provide Ukrainian companies and entrepreneurs with a new platform that allows them to expand toward growth markets in Asia and Africa through the UAE.”

The minister added that the CEPA would “play an active role in revitalizing the Ukrainian economy, and would provide new opportunities for the business communities of the two friendly countries.”

Ukrainian Economic Minister Yulia Svyrydenko said the deal is comprehensive and includes goods, investments, digital trade and other sectors. The ministry expects metals and vegetable oil exports from Ukraine to rise as a result of the agreement.

CEPA blitz continues

The UAE has been on a CEPA blitz over the past few years, as the country deepens its international economic network and looks to grow its non-oil revenue. The Arab world’s second-largest economy has so far signed 11 CEPAs with countries including Israel, India, Turkey, Georgia, Indonesia and Cambodia, as well as Mauritius, Kenya, the Republic of Congo, Colombia and Costa Rica. Last week, the UAE started talks for a CEPA agreement with Ecuador.

The country’s non-oil foreign trade reached a record 3.5 trillion dirhams ($952.93 billion) in 2023, up from 2.23 trillion dirhams ($607.17 billion) in 2022.