United Arab Emirates - Commercial Guide
Trade Agreements

Describes bilateral and multilateral trade agreements that this country is party to, including with the United States. Includes websites and other resources where U.S. companies can get more information on how to take advantage of these agreements.

Last published date: 2020-09-12

The United States signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2004 to provide a formal framework for dialogue on economic reform and trade liberalization. TIFAs promote the establishment of legal protection for investors, improvements in intellectual property rights protection, more transparent and efficient customs procedures, and greater transparency in government and commercial regulations. Through this process, the United States Government can identify potential partners for further trade cooperation, such as free trade agreements (FTA).

The United States began negotiating a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the UAE in March 2005. In early 2007, the United States and the UAE announced that they would not be able to complete FTA negotiations under the existing time frame for trade promotion authority, but that both sides remain committed to completing FTA negotiations later. No further FTA negotiations have taken place.

In 2012 the UAE, as a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), became party to the U.S.-GCC Framework Agreement for Trade, Economic, Investment, and Technical Cooperation. In 2014, the UAE ratified this agreement via Federal Decree No. 86. Since 2012, the United States and the UAE have held several iterations of the U.S.–UAE Economic Policy Dialogue, which provides a platform to collaborate on economic issues and address irritants to the bilateral commercial relationship.

The UAE is party to several multilateral and bilateral trade agreements, including with partner countries in the GCC. As part of the GCC, the UAE has strong economic ties with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman, meaning the UAE shares a common market and a customs union with these nations. Under the Greater Arab Free Trade Area Agreement (GAFTA), the UAE has free trade access to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Palestine, Syria, Libya, and Yemen

According to the UAE Federal Customs Authority (FCA), the UAE has also signed agreements with the following countries: Islamic Republic of Pakistan (2006), Republic of Algeria (2007), Republic of Azerbaijan (2011), Republic of India (2012), Republic of Kazakhstan (2012), Republic of Argentina (2013), Republic of Armenia (2013), Republic of Maldives (2014), Republic of South Korea (2015), and the Kingdom of the Netherlands (2015). In June 2009 the GCC signed an FTA with the European Free Trade Area (ETFA) (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland), which was implemented in July of 2015.

In addition, the UAE has signed free trade agreements with Singapore (through the GCCs agreement with the nation) and New Zealand, and has engaged in talks about the establishment of similar arrangements with the European Union, Japan, Australia, South Korea, India, Brazil, China, Argentina, Pakistan, Paraguay, Turkey, and Uruguay. It has also entered into several agreements on the protection and promotion of investment and the prevention of double taxation.

The UAE is also signatory to the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO), a treaty binding 78 countries (representing 97% of world trade in IT products) that seeks to eliminate tariffs on IT products. The numerous goods covered by the treaty are valued at over $1.3 trillion per year. The Abu Dhabi government formed the Advisory Committee on Free Trade Agreements, whose goal is to lift trade restrictions between the Abu Dhabi Emirate and countries the UAE is negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with.

The UAE became a contracting party to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1994, and subsequently became a member of the World Trade Organization in April of 1996.

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