The official closing ceremony of the Cambodia-United Arab Emirates Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CAM-UAE CEPA) has been agreed, and Thani bin Ahmed al-Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, will visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia next month, following his third visit to – And last week’s final round of talks produced what was hailed as a “pleasant and satisfying outcome”.
CEPA is a free trade agreement (FTA) that is generally designed to cover a broader scope beyond goods, and can include services, investment, dispute settlement, intellectual property rights, government procurement and other forms of specialized economic cooperation.
The three rounds of formal negotiations were held in Abu Dhabi on October 24-25, Phnom Penh on December 19-21 and Dubai on February 20-22.
The Ministry of Commerce said in a statement that the decision on the closing ceremony was taken at the third plenary meeting on February 22 between Tekreth Kamrang, Secretary of State for Commerce and Juma Juma, Assistant Undersecretary for Foreign Trade at the UAE Ministry of Economy. Mohammed al-Kait – Chairman of the CAM-UAE CEPA negotiating team in their respective countries.
It said that as a result of the third round of talks, the two sides agreed on the text, chapters and annexes of the agreement, which includes trade in goods; trade in services; investment; rules of origin; trade facilitation; technical barriers to trade; sanitary and phytosanitary measures ; intellectual property rights; trade remedies; economic and technical cooperation; and legal and institutional provisions.
The agreement will establish and “improve the comprehensive cooperative relationship between the two countries, promote trade exchanges, promote bilateral investment and production chain connectivity, especially between ASEAN and the Middle East, to promote national economic growth and inclusive, resilient and sustainable development,” the ministry said.
It noted that Al-Zeyoudi, who was on a working visit to the Kingdom at the request of Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak, praised the negotiating team for working with a “high degree” of responsibility and flexibility to ensure an “efficient” final round of negotiations produced “impressive results”. Happy result”. and satisfactory results”.
No expected date was given for the official signing of the CAM-UAE CEPA, although some local officials have confirmed that they expect the agreement to be signed before the end of the year.
Hong Vanak, director of international economics at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, believes that given the wealth and prosperity enjoyed by the UAE, CEPA will bring meaningful economic gains to Cambodia — and possibly benefits the agricultural export community, as well as building a country rich in oil and gas. The country is a springboard for Cambodian goods to enter other Arab and nearby markets.
He told The Post on Feb. 27 that the deal would help attract investors to the Cambodian market and give local companies the chance to learn from the UAE’s rich experience in the oil business.
For reference, the UAE has a total area of 83,600 square kilometers including its islands; a population of over 10.216 million as of February 27; GDP per capita (domestic gross domestic product) with a nominal value of $47,793.
Penn Sovicheat, deputy secretary of state and spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce, previously told the Post that the bilateral CEPA would liberalize trade to a higher level than Cambodia’s free trade agreements with China and South Korea.
The agreement will also highlight opportunities for cooperation in oil, mineral resources, meat production and agriculture, among other key areas, he said, noting that the UAE has signed CEPA with India, Israel and most recently with Indonesia.
He shared that the original plan was to establish a more standard free trade agreement between Cambodia and the UAE, focusing mainly on trade in goods and services, investment and economic cooperation. However, he confirmed that further opportunities were identified after further deliberation, prompting an upgrade to CEPA.
He added that the kingdom was still exploring the huge potential for exporting agricultural products, textile-related products and general components to the UAE and the wider Middle East.
“We hope that this agreement will incentivize players from Middle Eastern countries to invest in Cambodian manufacturing to export there. With all the agreements between them, access to the UAE market is like opening the door to export to regional countries,” Sovicheat said.
The Ministry of Commerce reported that Cambodia-UAE trade will total US$105 million in 2022, down 28.57 percent from US$147 million. Cambodia’s import and export volume to the UAE was US$70 million and US$35 million, a year-on-year increase of 34% and a decrease of 63%.
According to Trading Economics, annual bilateral trade between the two countries rose nearly 48 percent from $99.7 million in 2020 to $147.1 million in 2021, and had been positive for Cambodia between 2013 and 2019 until the UAE Rebalance the scale.
The statistics website shows that Cambodia’s import and export volume to the UAE will be US$52.12 million and US$94.94 million in 2021, an increase of 18% and 70.8% over 2020.
“Knitted or crocheted garments” accounted for the largest share of Cambodia’s exports in 2021 at 66% or $34.47 million (down 7.2% from 2019), while “mineral fuels, oils, distilled products” accounted for 79% of the Kingdom’s imports of 7,486 million US dollars (an increase of 18.5 times compared to 2019).
These two categories correspond to Chapters 61 and 27 of the Harmonized System of Tariff Nomenclature (HS), respectively.