DUBAI -The United Arab Emirates and South Korea have completed talks on a bilateral trade deal known as a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa), the two countries said on Saturday.
Trade and investment ties between the Gulf state and South Korea have steadily improved; in the first half of 2023, bilateral non-oil trade reached $3 billion, similar to the same period last year but up 21% from 2021, a statement said.
The Korea Electric Power Corporation and a consortium of Korean companies also built all four units of the $20 billion nuclear Barakah Power Plant in Abu Dhabi, which became operational in April this year, to help support the UAE’s domestic electricity needs.
South Korea was one of the first countries with which the Gulf state started talks for a Cepa in 2021.
However, three months later, the Asian state revived dormant free trade agreements (FTA) with the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council bloc, of which the UAE is a member.
“We resumed talks with Korea earlier this year as we were both keen to reach a deal and advance our respective economic agendas,” Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Foreign Trade, told Reuters, adding that the GCC FTA talks were still ongoing.
“There were approximately 178 South Korean companies doing business in the UAE in 2022, and the Korea-UAE Cepa would increase the stability of South Korean companies entering the UAE, while also supporting the activities of South Korean companies in the Middle East would support. North Africa,” South Korea’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement.
The UAE has signed several CEPAs so far, including from previous political foes Israel and Turkey, to Asian giants India and Indonesia, as part of a strategy to diversify its economy away from oil.
Asked whether the Israel-Gaza conflict would impact the Gulf state’s trade deal with Israel, the country said it does not mix politics with trade.