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UAE, Serbia initiate negotiations to sign free trade agreement

The UAE and the Republic of Serbia have taken a significant step toward boosting trade, investment and private-sector collaboration by initiating discussions on free trade between the two nations. 

According to the Serbian government website, Tomislav Momirovic, minister of domestic and foreign trade, signed a strategic document to initiate this agreement with UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi on Monday in Dubai. 

This economic partnership underscores the growing ties between the two nations, whose bilateral non-oil trade reached $57.6 million in the first half of 2023, surpassing the total for the entire year of 2020.  

Notably, the UAE has become the third-largest market for Serbian exports in the Middle East, while foreign direct investment has been flowing into several high-priority sectors, including agriculture, food security, real estate, infrastructure and logistics. 

The state news agency, WAM, quoted Al-Zeyoudi as saying the UAE is expanding its trade partners around the world as it pursues its target of 4 trillion dirhams ($1.089 trillion) in foreign trade by 2031.

The UAE leadership considers trade as one of the most important catalysts for growth, economic diversification and sustainable development.

The UAE official said: “The launch of the negotiations between the UAE and Serbia is an important milestone in the relations between the two countries. Serbia is an emerging economy in an increasingly important part of Europe, with strategic links to many vital markets in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, while the UAE can serve as Serbia’s gateway to markets in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.”

Al-Zeyoudi said the agreement “will not only improve access to these global supply chains but enable our private sectors to build long-term partnerships and explore new investment opportunities.”
A Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the UAE and Serbia will seek to improve bilateral non-oil trade by reducing or eliminating customs duties, removing unnecessary barriers to trade, protecting intellectual property rights, supporting small and medium-sized companies, and facilitating mutual investment flows.

It also aims to consolidate cooperation in the sectors of aviation, agriculture, construction, contracting, real estate, defense industries, and others.

Momirovic said his country has shown it is strongly focused on supporting the private sector and attracting new investments, stressing that the free trade agreement with the UAE will further encourage new investments from “this very rich” country. 

“The economic relations between Serbia and the UAE follow good political relations,” the Serbian minister said. 

He added that this relation can best be seen through the Belgrade Waterfront project and investments by major Emirati companies, such as Al-Dahra and DP World, which is developing the port of Novi Sad. 


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