By Professor Bill Mikhail
The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the UAE and Turkey which was signed in early March 2023 is a landmark free trade agreement that will have great positive implications for the whole Middle East. It was formulated in a way that promises to achieve expected benefits and the interests of the two nations. It also aims at stimulating a long-term, sustainable, and comprehensive economic growth in both Abu Dhabi and Ankara. In essence, the agreement cancels or reduces customs duties on 82% of goods and products procured by the main economic sectors of the two countries.
The symbolism of signing this agreement is significant. It coincides with the UAE and Turkey's celebration of the 50th anniversary of the start of their diplomatic relations, which witnessed significant momentum during the past eighteen months, culminating in mutual visits between the two countries’ leaderships. The visit of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed to Ankara was before assuming the reins of the UAE presidency. It was followed by the visit of the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Emirates in February 2022. These visits were a sign of a new dawn of inter-relationships between the two countries, primarily since the deep ties that bind them are based on mutual understanding and respect.
There are many advantages for this free-trade agreement. Economic observers believe that the agreement will contribute to the increasing of non-oil intra-trade between the UAE and Turkey to $40 billion annually within five years, and will also create 25,000 new job opportunities by 2031. It will increase UAE exports to Turkey by 21.7%. Oil exports between the two countries reached $18.9 billion in 2022 and grew by 40% compared to 2021. As a result, Turkey became the fastest-growing partner among the UAE's top 10 trade partners. This what Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed has stated. As well, bilateral trade between the two countries stood at a figure of $18.9 billion in 2922. This was a 40% increase from the year before. In addition, Turkey is at present the UAE’s sixth biggest trading partner for non-oil commerce.
Moreover, the UAE is now the 10th highest-ranking overseas market for Turkish contractors.
The signing of the partnership agreement was witnessed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoganz. This took place during a summit they held via visual communication technology. Representing Turkey at the signing of the trade accord was His Excellency Mohamed Moush, Minister of Commerce. In his speech, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed said, "We congratulate ourselves on signing the agreement, which we consider an exceptional agreement with a dear and friendly country." UAE President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed renewed the UAE's support for Turkey as a helper and assistant and stressed that the agreement expresses the common will to launch a new phase of relations between our two countries. For his part, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: "Together we are writing a new chapter in our relations with the UAE," noting that the joint efforts of the two sides aim to strengthen bilateral economic relations, which are based on a shared history. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised the support provided by the UAE to Turkey since the first day of the earthquake, appreciating the efforts made by the UAE search and rescue teams in the earthquake areas, in addition to the tremendous support provided by the field hospitals set up by the UAE and their services in theses afflicted regions.
In various fields and in many economic avenues, this free-trade agreement will contribute to strengthening the bonds of economic cooperation and advancing the development process in the two countries towards a bright future. It aims to stimulate trade and investment exchange, and joint economic growth in a way that enhances the quality of life of the two friendly peoples. Furthermore, it establishes a genuine development partnership, and the building of common interests and the consolidation of relations between Turkey and the Emirates. A more solid strategy between the two countries is the thoughtful inspiration of Ankara and Abu Dhabi. The political and economic intentions of the UAE is to strengthen the concept of development partnerships not only in the eastern Mediterranean region but also in the world, in a way that supports peace and cooperation, and achieves the expectations of peoples towards development, stability, and prosperit
Finally, with this agreement, the two countries will usher in a new phase of bilateral cooperation, which will undoubtedly contribute to boosting trade exchange and investment flows. Of importance is the sanctioning of creating collaborative opportunities in the economic priority sectors in both the UAE and Turkey. The agreement clarifies the UAE's strategic vision in creating a future non-oil economy with Turkey and the world. The free-trade agreement between the United Arab Emirates and the Republic of Turkey will be successful.
About the author: Bill Mikhail holds a doctorate in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. He has a Master’s in International Relations from the American University in Washington, D.C. He taught political science at George Washington University, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. You can watch his videos on his YouTube channel designated by his name “Nabil Mikhail Channel.