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Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, led a high level public and private sector delegation from the UAE to attend the first session of the UAE-Türkiye Joint Economic and Trade Commission (JETCO) in Istanbul.
Established during Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the UAE in July this year, the body is designed to expand and diversify the two nations’ trade and commercial relations and help achieve the goals of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which came into force on September 1 with the aim of increasing non-oil-trade to US$40 billion within five years.
During the meeting Al Zeyoudi and His Excellency Ömer Bolat, Minister of Trade of the Republic of Türkiye, heralded the progress of UAE-Turkish relations and expressed optimism about the prospects of further economic integration. During the first half of 2023, bilateral non-oil trade amounted to US$13.5 billion, an increase of 87 percent compared to the same period in 2022. This is almost equal to the total non-oil trade recorded in the whole of 2021 and double that achieved in 2020. Türkiye is the UAE’s fastest-growing trading partner among its top ten partners, and the sixth largest overall, accounting for more than 3 percent of the country’s total non-oil trade. In terms of investment, the UAE’s FDI into Türkiye now stands at US$7.8 billion.
HE Al Zeyoudi was joined at the commission by Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Special Envoy to the Republic of Türkiye; HE Saeed Thani Al Dhaheri, UAE Ambassador to the Republic of Türkiye; HE Mohammad Saeed Al Nuaimi, Acting Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Climate Change and the Environment; and HE Juma Mohammed Al Kait, Assistant Undersecretary for International Trade Affairs at the UAE Ministry of Economy.
The conversations during the inaugural session covered sectors such as agro-food, automotive, fintech, healthcare, water technology, infrastructure, logistics and collaboration in joint projects in third countries. With the upcoming 2023 UN Climate Change Conference-COP28 taking place in Dubai in November and December, both parties also reiterated their commitment to collaborating on energy transition projects, transitioning to a low-carbon economy and supporting the development of a circular economy.
HE Al Zeyoudi stated, “This Joint Economic and Trade Commission is one of the key platforms to enable us to achieve the ambitious non-oil trade targets we have established. It will allow us to identify areas of maximum opportunity for our exporters, enable us to explore priority sectors for investment, help us build consensus on digital trade frameworks, standardization and accreditation and most importantly, reinforce trust and transparency in a relationship that is increasingly pivotal to both nations.”
Al Zeyoudi went on to stress the importance of the active participation of the private sector saying, “The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement has opened the door to greater trade and investment, but it requires the cooperation and collaboration of our private sectors to fully realize its benefits. That means a forum for all stakeholders to share opportunities and discuss possibilities – openly and honestly. That means a place where conversations can begin – and carry on long into the future for our mutual benefit.”
Dr Thani echoed this message in a series of business events held alongside the joint commission, which included the Türkiye-UAE Business Forum and a high-level roundtable. Representatives of leading companies and investors from both countries participated in the sessions, where they held a series of bilateral meetings to exchange ideas and explore high-potential investment and partnership opportunities.
Subsequently, a total of three memoranda of understating (MoU) were exchanged between Emirati and Turkish entities during the events, including an MoU between the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development and DEİK, the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Türkiye; and between UAE-based Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP) and Türkiye’s Yıldız Technopark. SRTIP also signed an MoU with the World Business Angel Forum (WBAF).
Commenting on the success of the events in Istanbul, Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori said: “The UAE recognizes the immense potential of our relationship with Türkiye, a likeminded, pro-growth nation that has emerged as one of the region’s most dynamic economies. It is also one of the UAE’s fastest-growing trade partners and, with the UAE-Türkiye CEPA now fully implemented, we are set to enjoy a new era of cooperation between our two nations – one where we can harness our joint capabilities and resources to create a wide range of mutually beneficial growth opportunities. The meetings held in Istanbul this week have highlighted the breadth of possibilities in front of us and I look forward to supporting the development of the relationships and networks they will create.”
For his part, His Excellency Ömer Bolat said: “UAE-Turkish relations are witnessing a remarkable period of growth owing to the shared will from both sides to deepen our economic ties. This can be seen with record growth in our bilateral non-oil trade, which continues to flourish compared to previous years. We expect the value of non-oil trade will climb even further supported by the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the UAE and Türkiye, which came into effect in early September.”
His Excellency added: “Other areas of cooperation are also witnessing tangible positive developments. For instance, Turkish construction companies have undertaken 141 projects worth US$12.6 billion in the UAE to date. This figure positions the Emirates as tenth globally for the number of projects undertaken by Turkish companies.”
The visiting delegation to Istanbul included 79 participants, including senior federal and local government officials, in addition to representatives of a number of major UAE companies operating in various sectors, including trade and investment, logistics, industry, energy, technology, healthcare, environment, agriculture, food security and financial services.
The second session of the Joint Economic Trade Commission will be held in the UAE with a date set to be agreed in the near future.
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