UAE Trade Agreements: Opportunities for Investors

Despite the United Arab Emirates (UAE) only joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1996, the region immediately became a very active member by participating in various trade negotiations and fulfilling many of its obligations.

In signing relevant trade agreements, the UAE aims to develop the level of trade and economic cooperation at an international level, diversify the sources of its economy and achieve sustainable development. These trade agreements have successfully opened the doors of the UAE economy to many international players from various different parts of the world and has helped them derive economic benefits from this highly developed economic zone.

In this article, we shall underline some of the key trade agreements signed by the UAE in order to highlight the benefits that investors may receive from the UAE’s international market.

GCC Commercial Agreement GCC-EFTA Free Trade Agreement

The UAE together with GCC countries (meaning Gulf Cooperation Council countries, including Saudi Arabia, QatarOmanKuwait and Bahrain) signed an economic agreement on the 31st of December 2001 which was then implemented on the 1st of January 2003. The agreement mainly focuses on commercial exchanges, economic and cash unification, transportation, adoption of complementary economic and development policies among GCC states and, most importantly, the promotion of a Common Gulf Market. In this regard, the GCC Agreement provides a set of disciplines that contributes towards enhancing the competitiveness of GCC Member states within international markets, such as: adopting complementary economic and development policies, a unified customs tariff for non-GCC countries and unified customs regulations and procedures along with the standardization of import and export procedures.

GCC-EFTA Free Trade Agreement GCC Singapore Free Trade Agreement(GSFTA)

The GCC (including the UAE) also signed a free trade agreement in 2009 with EFTA countries (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). This FTA mostly affects trade in goods and services, e-commerce, competition law, intellectual property, participation in government procurement and dispute settlement. The list of benefits provided by this FTA includes: The exemption of customs duties for all industrial goods, fish and marine products exported to EFTA countries, the exemption of customs duties for the most imported goods from EFTA countries to the UAE, reciprocal tariff exemptions in processed agricultural commodities, national treatment for service providers of member states and enhanced cooperation and exchanges of information in e-commerce.


GCC Singapore Free Trade Agreement(GSFTA)

The FTA between GCC Countries and Singapore was signed in 2008, in Doha. This comprehensive agreement benefits enterprises in the following sectors: petrochemicals, jewelry, machinery, iron and aluminum. Under this agreement customs duties have been exempted in relation to GCC exports to Singapore and 99% of Singapore’s exports to GCC countries.


Multiple Trade Agreements with India

India and the UAE have shared trade links throughout the centuries, some examples of their long-standing trade cooperation include the signing of the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) in April 1992, The Framework Agreement on Economic Cooperation signed on the 25th August 2004, The Customs Cooperation Agreement signed on the 1st of April 2012 and The India-UAE Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) signed on December 12th 2013.

The UAE is the 3rd largest trading partner with India. UAE is the 9th biggest investor in India in terms of FDI[1]. This can be attributed to the various agreements between the trading parties as well as the investment of UAE companies in the Indian marketplace[2].



The UAE is continuously invested in improving its trade relations with the different economies of the world on the basis of mutual benefits and strategic partnerships. The UAE is currently engaged in negotiations for trade agreements with countries and regions such as USA, Japan, China, South Korea, E.U., Australia and Turkey. The successful conclusion of these trade agreements will further strengthen the economic ties between the UAE and other economies and will help to nourish the amount of foreign investment in the UAE economy.



[1] relation.php#:~:text=India%2DUAE%20trade%2C%20valued%20at,20%20after%20China%20and%20US.&text=For%20UAE%2C%20India%20is%20the,(non%2Doil%20trade).