Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, and Tengku Zafrul Aziz, Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry of Malaysia, have signed a joint statement agreeing to launch negotiations to establish a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two countries.
The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the official visit of H.H. Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, to the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.
Dr. Al Zeyoudi underlined the developing relations between the UAE and Malaysia, stating that the negotiations have built upon strong growth in bilateral trade and investment over recent years.
“Non-oil trade between the UAE and Malaysia continues its upward trajectory over the past five years, reaching US$4.6 billion in 2022, a growth of 5 percent compared to 2021, and up 31 percent and 18 percent compared to 2020 and 2019, respectively.
“Today, the UAE is Malaysia’s 17th trade partner globally and the second in the Middle East, accounting for 32 percent of Malaysia’s trade with Arab countries. The UAE is also the first destination for Malaysian merchandise exports to Arab countries, accounting for 40 percent of its exports to the region. The other way, Malaysia ranks eighth globally for UAE exports and 19th in re-exports.”
On the growing investment relations between the two countries, Al Zeyoudi highlighted that the value of Malaysian investments in the UAE amount to US$150 million across sectors of industry, building and construction, real estate, trade, transport, storage, financial activities, insurance, and professional and technical activities, while UAE investments in Malaysia amount to more than US$220 million, including more than US$51 million in the industrial sector.
Al Zeyoudi stressed that the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with Malaysia comes as part of the UAE’s plans to expand its network of trade partners with strategically important markets, noting that Malaysia is the fourth largest economy in the Southeast Asian region and that its economy continues to achieve record growth rates owing to the strong global demand for its electronics products in particular.
He also underscored that the agreement between the UAE and Malaysia will contribute to the consolidation of trade and investment relations between the two friendly countries, launching a new era of partnership that will accelerate opportunities for the business communities in the two countries, especially in priority sectors.
Meanwhile, Aziz said, “With the commencement of negotiations for the Malaysia-UAE CEPA, Malaysia is committed to enhancing the longstanding economic partnership with the UAE. It will set the stage for a comprehensive and mutually beneficial economic framework that will forge stronger strategic collaborations, foster innovation, spur economic growth, and create job opportunities for both nations.
“The UAE consistently holds its position as a crucial and strategic trading partner for Malaysia in the Middle East, while Malaysia is an ideal gateway for UAE to venture into the Asia Pacific market. Building upon our shared aspirations, I am confident that the Malaysia-UAE CEPA will bring immense benefits to businesses, entrepreneurs, and citizens of both countries, propelling our special and close partnership to new heights.”
The negotiations with Malaysia are the latest under the UAE’s ambitious foreign trade agenda, which has so far seen the conclusion of 4 CEPAs with India, Israel, Indonesia, and Turkey. Agreements with India and Israel have been entered into force, while those with Indonesia and Turkey are soon to be implemented.
Additional agreements with Georgia and Cambodia are also soon to be signed, and the UAE is currently in talks with more markets of strategic importance at the regional and global levels.