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UAE-Thailand CEPA to Bolster Bilateral and Trade Ties

The UAE-Thailand Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) is poised to make a significant impact on the Thai economy, adding an estimated $300 million to Thailand’s GDP, according to Sorayut Chasombat, the Ambassador of Thailand to the UAE. Ambassador Chasombat made these remarks during a media briefing at the Royal Thai Embassy in Abu Dhabi as another round of negotiations for the CEPA agreement was underway in Bangkok this week. Chasombat, who arrived in the UAE in December 2022 and presented his credentials to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in February, emphasized the importance of strengthening ties between the two nations.

Negotiations for the CEPA free trade deal began in May, and Chasombat noted that they are making significant progress. “We hope to hear the good news,” he said. Thailand aims to become the third ASEAN country to sign the CEPA agreement with the UAE, underscoring the importance of trade relations between the two nations. Last year, the UAE was Thailand’s largest trading partner in the Arab world, ranking 13th globally. In 2022, bilateral trade between the two countries reached $20 billion, with non-oil trade amounting to $6.1 billion, marking a 21 percent increase from 2021. Chasombat highlighted that the CEPA’s implementation will elevate bilateral relations to a new level. “With the completion of CEPA, it will add at least $300 million to the Thai GDP and at least $250 million to bilateral trade between the two countries.”

Strong Presence at COP28

Thailand has been proactive in addressing environmental concerns and is ranked first in Southeast Asia for progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The country has ambitious plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and net-zero emissions by 2065, while promoting a bio-circular-green economy. Ambassador Chasombat assured that Thailand will be an active participant in the upcoming UN climate conference, COP28, to be held in Dubai. “Thailand is well-known for sustainable development. We plan to have strong participation at the upcoming COP28, next year’s World Government Summit, and the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference. We would give our utmost support to the UAE.”

Tourism Boom and Culture

The tourism sector in Thailand is experiencing a resurgence and has been welcoming a record number of visitors from the UAE. Chasombat noted the significant role of tourism in Thailand’s economy, stating, “Tourism is the main booster to Thailand’s economy. The UAE has been one of our biggest markets. Now, the UAE is number two, after Saudi Arabia, among those who visit Thailand.” Thai missions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are currently receiving between 80 and 100 visa applications a day from expats wanting to explore Thailand.

To facilitate cultural preservation, the embassy holds language classes for children every Sunday, teaching both Thai and Arabic languages. “This will help children born here to remain connected to their roots.” Additionally, the embassy plans to host a Thai festival early next year to further promote Thai culture and strengthen the bonds between the two nations. As negotiations for the UAE-Thailand CEPA progress, the partnership between the two nations is set to deepen, with significant economic and cultural benefits on the horizon.