South Korea and UAE Agree to Major Free Trade Deal


The president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, signed a “Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA)” alongside South Korean counterpart Yoon Suk-yeol in Seoul on Wednesday, significantly boosting trade between the two nations.

“Under the agreement, the two countries will lift tariffs on more than 90 percent of goods traded over the next 10 years,” Yonhap reported. “The UAE will especially lift tariffs on South Korea’s major export goods, including cars, auto parts, defense items, fruits and instant noodles. … The UAE also agreed to open its market to online gaming content and medical services.”

The CEPA is part of a broader set of agreements signed on Wednesday, which also included “19 business deals and memorandums of understanding (MOUs) encompassing investment, energy, nuclear power, defense, technology, climate change and cultural exchanges,” Yonhap reported. The UAE pledged to invest $30 billion in South Korea.

Bin Zayed’s visit also resulted in another unique energy agreement: a deal between the Korean government’s Korea Electric Power Corp. and the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation to jointly build nuclear reactors in an unspecified third country. The Emirati newspaper the National noted that South Korea was instrumental in the UAE developing a nuclear energy industry, aiding in the construction of the UAE’s Barakah Nuclear Power Plant.

President Yoon held a summit with the visiting bin Zayed on Wednesday after Seoul welcomed bin Zayed with high honors, including an elaborate military display.

“On Wednesday, the second day of his two-day visit, an official reception was held for Sheikh Mohamed at the Office of the President in Seoul,” the National detailed. “It featured several displays by Korean aircraft, a 21-gun salute and an honor guard formation as the national anthems of both countries played.”

“Groups of children performed an Emirati song while others waved the flags of both nations, and Seoul’s streets were adorned with UAE flags as the city’s landmarks were illuminated in its colors,” it noted. The UAE president also “enjoyed a traditional Korean tea ceremony” with their hosts.

“Today’s signing represents a promising step forward as we commit to building upon the robust economic cooperation that links our nations and delivering tangible growth for our peoples,” bin Zayed wrote.

The free trade deal is a significant achievement for the Yoon administration, which has focused on expanding trade ties with Gulf states. In addition to the UAE, Yoon has pursued efforts to enhance defense, energy, and trade cooperation with neighboring Saudi Arabia, which he visited in October, marking the first visit by a South Korean president.

“Korea is Saudi Arabia’s optimal partner in the post-oil era,” Yoon said during a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the time. “It is encouraging to see the bilateral relationship develop from the traditional sectors of energy and construction to a cutting-edge industrial partnership that jointly produces automobiles and ships, as well as cooperation in the areas of tourism and cultural exchanges.”

During his Middle East tour in October, Yoon also visited Doha, Qatar, where he told local media he was seeking expansion in “cooperation in various areas including energy, infrastructure, trade, investment, [and] the defense industry.”

Frances Martel
Frances Martel
Author and editor specializing in international current events.

Latest stories


Related Articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
Captcha verification failed!
CAPTCHA user score failed. Please contact us!
Continue on app