UAE and New Zealand Launched Free Trade Agreement Negotiations


By Qian Zhou

New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) commenced negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) on May 6, 2024, per the New Zealand Foreign Affairs & Trade Office.

Trade ministers of New Zealand and the UAE—Minister McClay and Minister Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi—met in Dubai, where they announced the launch of negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and discussed strengthening economic ties between the two countries.

This significant step follows successful exploratory talks and public consultations, underscoring the value of such an agreement.

“The UAE is an important bilateral partner for New Zealand, and today’s launch of negotiations is an exciting step towards growing our significant trade and economic relationship” Mr McClay said.

A well-crafted trade agreement will not only bolster New Zealand’s economy but also create new export opportunities for the country. Additionally, the CEPA with the UAE aligns with New Zealand’s ongoing efforts to negotiate an FTA with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

UAE-New Zealand trade relations

The UAE stands as New Zealand’s largest market in the Middle East and ranks among the top 20 goods export markets for the country.

In 2023, New Zealand’s goods and services exports to the UAE increased 8 percent to NZ$1.04 billion (US$630 million). Two-way New Zealand-UAE trade was NZ$1.18 billion (US$710 million).

New Zealand’s primary exports to the UAE include dairy products, other edible items of animal origin, preparations of cereals, flour, starch, or milk, iron and steel, meat, and edible fruits and nuts.

Main New Zealand Exports to the UAE, 2023

Product category Value (US$) million
Dairy produce; birds’ eggs; natural honey; edible products of animal origin, not elsewhere stated or included 350.7
Preparations of cereals, flour, starch or milk; pastrycooks’ products 47.0
Iron and steel 28.9
Meat and edible meat offal 28.1
Edible fruit and nuts; peel of citrus fruit or melons 22.7
Source: ICT Trade Map

On the other hand, the UAE predominantly exports plastics and related articles, carpets, glassware, precious stones and metals, and iron or steel products to New Zealand.

Main UAE Exports to New Zealand, 2023

Product category Value (US$) million
Plastics and articles thereof 94.7
Carpets and other textile floor coverings 22.2
Glass and glassware 21.5
Natural or cultured pearls, precious or semi-precious stones, precious metals, metals clad with precious metal, and articles thereof; imitation jewelries; coins 16.2
Articles of iron or steel 9.5
Source: ICT Trade Map

UAE’s FTA network

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.

The United States began negotiating an FTA with the UAE in March 2005, though the process was suspended in early 2007. No further FTA negotiations have taken place.

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, the UAE has free trade access to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Palestine, Syria, Libya, and Yemen.

The UAE started aggressively pursuing bilateral CEPAs in 2021 and signed its first bilateral trade agreement with India on February 18, 2022. In 2023, the UAE’s CEPAs experienced exponential growth, with three deals implemented, two more signed and awaiting implementation, and four agreed upon. According the official website of New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade, as of May 2024, the UAE has concluded over a dozen CEPAs, with five already in force.

Source: United Arab Emirates Ministry of Economy


About Us

Middle East Briefing is one of five regional publications under the Asia Briefing brand. It is supported by Dezan Shira & Associates, a pan-Asia, multi-disciplinary professional services firm that assists foreign investors throughout Asia, including through offices in Dubai (UAE), China, India, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Italy, Germany, and USA. We also have partner firms in Malaysia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Thailand, and Australia.

For support with establishing a business in the Middle East, or for assistance in analyzing and entering markets elsewhere in Asia, please contact us at or visit us at To subscribe for content products from the Middle East Briefing, please click here.

Related reading
Back to top