UAE and South Korea sign free trade pact

UAE becomes first Arab country to sign free trade pact with S. Korea

/ 03:20 PM May 29, 2024

South Korea and the United Arab Emirates on Wednesday signed a comprehensive economic partnership agreement aimed at enhancing trade openness and expanding market access during the first state visit of the UAE president to South Korea.

The UAE is the first Arab country to sign such an agreement with South Korea.

Trade, Industry, and Energy Minister Ahn Duk-Geun and UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, attend the signing ceremony held on the occasion of the summit between South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the presidential office in Yongsan, Seoul.


The key elements of CEPA, akin to a free trade agreement, include “tariff liberalization, the opening of service sectors such as healthcare and online gaming, and the establishment of a future-oriented economic partnership in fields like biotechnology and energy,” according to the presidential office.


Yoon’s office also explained that the signing of the CEPA has established an “institutional framework to strengthen economic partnership across various sectors, including trade liberalization and investment expansion.”

READ: UAE and South Korea complete talks for bilateral trade deal

The official signing ceremony took place about seven months after both parties confirmed the conclusion of negotiations on CEPA in October 2023.

UAE’s $30-B investment commitment

During the summit, Yoon and Mohamed also “confirmed the outcomes of the UAE’s commitment of a $30 billion investment through sovereign wealth funds,” and thereby strengthening public confidence in investment cooperation and increasing interest in investing in Korean companies, according to Yoon’s office.

Yoon’s office also stated that “UAE institutions, including Mubadala, are currently reviewing investment opportunities worth over $6 billion in the Korean market through investment cooperation channels.”

READ: UAE pledges to invest $30B in South Korea -Yoon’s office


In January 2023, during his trip to the UAE, Yoon secured a $30 billion investment commitment during his summit with Mohamed, marking the first state visit by a South Korean President to the UAE.

The South Korean presidential office also highlighted that the summit has established an “all-encompassing cooperation system covering nuclear power and energy, defense, AI and other advanced technologies, as well as investment.”

The summit concluded with the signing of 19 agreements and memorandums of understanding. The MOUs encompass various areas including climate change response, maritime transport cooperation, joint investment in petrochemicals, cooperation on radio frequency management, expansion of joint oil reserve operations, and enhancement of intellectual property capacities.

“President Mohamed’s visit has paved the way for the deepening and advancement of the ‘Special Strategic Partnership’ between the two countries, rooted in the special bond between their leaders,” Yoon’s office said.

The UAE stands as the sole Middle Eastern country to establish a Special Strategic Partnership with South Korea, joining a very few select group of countries, including Indonesia, India, and Uzbekistan.

South Korea and the UAE have agreed to jointly explore entry into the African market, energy infrastructure sector, and nuclear power plant market. To solidify this collaboration, the two countries have signed three MOUs aimed at establishing a cooperation system within the sectors.

Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul and UAE Ambassador to South Korea Abdulla Saif Al Nuaimi notably signed the MOU to “establish a cooperative system between the foreign ministries of both countries in order to seek joint entry into the African market by companies and institutions from both countries,” according to Yoon’s office.

During the summit, Yoon and Mohamed “discussed specific measures aimed at enhancing cooperation to promote innovative growth in both countries within the field of AI, as well as sharing South Korea’s AI development strategy.”

The two leaders also “concurred on the necessity to bolster long-term, strategic defense, and defense industrial cooperation.” This encompasses “enhancing defense collaboration centered around the Akh Unit and swiftly achieving outcomes in ongoing defense cooperation discussions between the two countries.”

Military cooperation

The UAE is uniquely the only foreign country where South Korea has deployed the “Akh Unit” for military cooperation since 2011. “Akh” means “brother” in Arabic.

Before the summit, Yoon hosted an official welcoming ceremony for Mohamed.

Upon Mohamed’s arrival at the presidential office in Yongsan, the South Korean Air Force’s aerobatic team, the Black Eagles, performed a flyover, releasing smoke in the colors of the UAE flag: red, green, black and white.

Approximately 400 soldiers, who have either returned from or are scheduled to deploy with the Akh Unit, lined up at Yongsan Children’s Garden — located in front of Yoon’s office — to salute and welcome Mohamed’s motorcade.

On Tuesday night, Yoon and Mohamed engaged in a cordial meeting at Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul. They strolled through the gardens, shared tea and enjoyed a performance of a traditional royal court dance.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Mohamed made a two-day visit to South Korea, concluding on Wednesday, which included meetings with leaders of major South Korean conglomerates such as Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won and Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun on Tuesday.

TAGS: free trade deal, South Korea, UAE

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.