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Indonesia hopes to boost Middle East exports after new UAE trade pact

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JAKARTA: Indonesian officials have said they hope to boost the country’s exports to the Middle East after signing a far-reaching new economic pact with the United Arab Emirates.

Indonesian Trade Minister Zulfikli Hasan and UAE Economy Minister Abdullah bin Touq Al-Marri signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement in Abu Dhabi on Friday, following the launch of talks last September aimed at eliminating customs duties and stimulating investment between the two countries.

Bilateral trade volume reached nearly $4 billion in 2021, according to data from the Indonesian Ministry of Commerce, showing an increase of nearly 38% from the previous year, when it was worth $2.9 billion. . The agreement is Indonesia’s first with a Gulf country and the United Arab Emirates’ first with a Southeast Asian country.

The new pact is expected to increase Indonesian exports to the UAE by 54%, or around $844 million, over the next 10 years after the deal comes into effect, as the pact clears around 94% of tariffs existing. Indonesia’s top exports to the UAE include jewelry, palm oil, and motor vehicles.

This agreement will be Indonesia’s gateway to the United Arab Emirates, which is a hub for increasing exports to non-traditional export destinations in the Gulf, Middle East, Hasan said in a statement. published on Friday.

The pact also includes chapters on tourism, intellectual property rights and mutual recognition of each country’s halal certification.

The full text of the agreement was not immediately released and the deal still needs to be ratified by the Indonesian House of Representatives, which could take several months. Indonesia signed similar agreements with Australia in 2019 and South Korea in 2020.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who attended the signing with UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan as part of his visit to Abu Dhabi, also expressed his appreciation for the improved relations between the two countries.

Amid the difficult situation we are currently facing, we continue to work together to strengthen relations between our two countries, Widodo said, quoted in a statement released by his office on Friday.

Diana Dewi, president of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry branch in Jakarta, said the new agreement could be useful for Indonesian economic players.

This agreement will be an entry point for Indonesian companies to increase their exports to the UAE, Dewi told Arab News.

The UAE is also a hub for entering the European market, she added.

The far-reaching deal could bring new prospects to Indonesia, Bhima Yudhistira, president of the Jakarta-based Center for Economic and Legal Studies, told Arab News.

(The) United Arab Emirates is an important hub for exports to the Middle East and North Africa. The UAE’s developments in the automotive sector are quite promising and would require spare parts and components from Indonesia, Yudhistira said.

But it also offers new challenges for Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, he added.

It is a challenge to break into the UAE market in terms of product quality and competition because the UAE market is a high-income group.

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