The UAE and Cambodia began negotiations on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa), as the UAE seeks to double the size of its economy and increase GDP to more than Dh3 trillion ($817 billion) by 2030.
Officials said at a joint press conference on Monday that the countries hope to increase bilateral non-oil trade to $1 billion in the next three to five years.
According to Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, trade between the two countries increased by 40% in the first eight months of this year to $279 million, compared to the same period in 2021, and is expected to exceed $350 million by the end of 2022.
"Dr. Al Zeyoudi anticipates that the two countries' agreement will be finalised in "three to six months, at most."
The two countries will concentrate on infrastructure and logistics, tourism and hospitality, food security, energy, and especially renewables. Banking, FinTech, and marine services are among the other industries.
The latest talks come on the heels of similar trade cooperation agreements signed by the UAE with other countries.
The UAE signed Cepa agreements with India, Indonesia, and Israel this year, and is currently in talks with Turkey, Georgia, Colombia, and Cambodia.
The agreement with India, Asia's third-largest economy, went into effect on May 1, while the agreements with Indonesia and Israel will go into effect on January 1, according to Dr. Al Zeyoudi.
"Turkey is almost done; we are just finishing up and will be announced soon," he said, adding that talks with Georgia were progressing well.
Non-oil trade between the UAE and Indonesia is expected to increase to $10 billion in the next five years, up from $3 billion now, while the deal with India is expected to increase non-oil trade between the two countries to $100 billion in five years, up from $60 billion now.
The trade and investment agreement with Israel is expected to increase non-oil bilateral trade to more than $10 billion within five years.
The UAE and Turkey began talks in April on a deal that is expected to double bilateral trade from $13.7 billion, according to the Ministry of Economy at the time.
In addition to increasing investment, the Cepa agreement with Cambodia will provide "huge market access to our services sector, particularly in areas of our expertise," according to the agreement. Al Zeyoudi, Dr said.
According to him, the agreement will benefit small and medium-sized businesses as well as the UAE industry.
According to the International Monetary Fund, Cambodia's economy grew by 3% last year and is expected to grow by 5.1 percent this year and 6.2 percent next year.
Pan Sorasak, Cambodia's Commerce Minister, expressed optimism about the countries' trade prospects.
We can directly sell a variety of natural resources and agricultural goods to the Middle East, in particular the UAE, he said.
Mr Sorasak believes that the UAE can help Cambodia accelerate its digital economy while also serving as a springboard for the South-East Asian country to strengthen ties with countries in the wider Middle East and Africa.