UAE's critical role in global trade
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has underlined, in the conclusion of the Second Trade Policy Review (TPR) of the United Arab Emirates at the WTO’s headquarters in Geneva, the important role the UAE plays in global trade and in the multilateral trading system.
The WTO expressed its hope for greater prosperity and success for the UAE in building a more advanced knowledge-based economy and in strengthening its role in the organisation to further strengthen the foundations of the multilateral trading system.
His Excellency Colombian Ambassador Eduardo Munoz, the Chairman of the WTO Trade Policy Review Body, said in the concluding remarks of the Trade Policy Review of the UAE, that “this Review has confirmed the important role played by the UAE in the multilateral trading system and the benefits of maintaining an open economy.” Munoz added that WTO “members commended the UAE [during TPR discussions] for the bold steps taken to diversify the economy away from oil and gas.”
The Chairman pointed out that the members also praised the country’s open trade regime, which applies low tariffs that have not exceeded 4.9 percent in 2011, enabling the UAE to “successfully weather the global crisis without backsliding on trade liberalisation”.
Munoz added: “Members encouraged the UAE to continue its reforms in order to achieve its goal, based on the ‘UAE Vision 2021’, to transform the economy into one that is knowledge-based, highly productive, and competitive.” He also pointed out that “Members welcomed the UAE’s commitment to the multilateral trading system and encouraged it to further foster its participation” in order to achieve its economic diversification related goals.
For her part, Reenat Sandhu, the Deputy Permanent Representative of India to the WTO and TPR discussant, said that the member states have commended the UAE “for its open and liberal trading regime [which is] characterised by a simple tariff structure, low applied tariffs and few non-tariff barriers”. She added that “members have welcomed the UAE’s progressive economic agenda and diversification strategy of promoting growth in the services and non-oil sectors, particularly air and maritime transport, telecommunications and tourism,” adding that the UAE’s “business friendly environment and free trade zones have been applauded as a successful model for investment promotion.”
The Indian diplomat pointed out that “the UAE has received more than 220 enquiries, which is reflective of the immense interest of Members in the UAE economy and in promoting trade and economic ties with the country. They are also reflective of the active role played by the UAE bilaterally, regionally and multilaterally as a trading nation.”
She expressed the hope “that this trade policy review will serve as a useful basis for further enhancing the UAE’s trade and commercial engagement with the rest of the world.” She concluded her remarks by stating that member states have submitted a number of recommendations regarding strengthening the efforts undertaken by the UAE to support the global multilateral trading system.
The closing session of the TPR also saw interventions from the WTO representatives of the European Union, the United States of America, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan among others, who commended the UAE’s trade policies and its steadily growing role in global trade.
For her part, the Permanent Representative of the EU at the WTO stressed that the UAE is regarded as a strategic partner for the EU and that the European block hopes to increase its current levels of cooperation with the UAE through the signing of a Free Trade Agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council.
For his part, the US Representative commended the performance and flexibility of the UAE trading system and the country’s effective participation in the WTO and support of the ‘Doha Development Agenda’, which promotes the multilateral trading system.
The US official added that his country looks forward to more economic and trade cooperation with the UAE through achieving more openness and flexibility in the laws and legislations of both countries.
For her part, the WTO Representative of Pakistan expressed her country’s appreciation of the UAE’s achievements in developing its trade legislations, laws and infrastructure in the service of global trade since the first UAE TPR was conducted in 2006, adding that ever since the first report was issued, the UAE had risen to become one of the most important centers for global trade.
The Pakistani official pointed out to the growing strategic trade relationship between the UAE and Pakistan, adding that the UAE is one of Pakistan’s significant global trading partners.
The Pakistani diplomat added that the 2nd TPR of the UAE has reflected the progress attained by the UAE in its trade policy, expressing her country’s confidence in the UAE’s ability to achieve further successes in the global trade arena. For her part, Her Excellency Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, the UAE Minister of Foreign Trade, in her closing remarks during the closing session of the UAE’s 2nd TPR, said that “the UAE will continue to uphold its free-market strategy” and will proceed with “reviewing all existing policies in order to make them as resilient, adaptable, and responsive to future challenges”.
Sheikha Lubna added that the UAE appreciates the praise it has received from member states for its trade policies. She also expressed her appreciation of statements from many members states affirming their strategic trade partnership with the UAE.
Her Excellency also commended statements made by member states in recognition of the UAE’s efforts to overcome the effects and ramifications of the global financial crisis without recourse to protective measures. Her Excellency stated that the UAE will continue to develop its economic and legislative laws and legislations and to diversify its economy within the “UAE Vision 2021” framework. She also affirmed that the UAE is ready to provide more information about its trade policy and to deliver on its obligations to the WTO, adding that the UAE will continue to work with the WTO Secretariat and to benefit from its expertise and the technical assistance it offers member states.
Sheikha Lubna concluded that the UAE is ready to respond to any additional questions or enquiries other than the ones already presented by the member states during this TPR, which were over 220 enquiries, adding that “the UAE is ready to respond, within the timeframe set by the WTO, to any further requested clarifications or enquiries made by member states.”
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