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null HE Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi leads UAE delegation to Jakarta to deepen ties with ASEAN region

04 Sep 2023

HE Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi leads UAE delegation to Jakarta to deepen ties with ASEAN region


  • UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade meets government officials from Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Timor-Leste and the Philippines
  • Non-oil trade between UAE and ASEAN reached US$15.3 billion in H1 2023
  • HE Al Zeyoudi: “As the economic center of gravity continues to shift eastwards, the UAE and ASEAN can form a powerful new corridor of opportunity”



 His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, has led a UAE delegation to Jakarta, Indonesia, to attend the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit, the annual economic policy forum that brings together heads of state, policy makers and business leaders to discuss key issues facing South-East Asia. During the visit, His Excellency held a number of high-level meetings with prime ministers, ministers and senior government officials from across the region in order to explore greater trade and investment opportunities between the UAE and the ASEAN bloc, and to build consensus on key issues of global trade in the build-up to the World Trade Organisation’s 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi in February, 2024. 

These included bilateral meetings with ministers from the host nation, Indonesia, in which HE Dr Thani joined His Excellency Zulkifli Hasan, Minister of Trade, HE Bahlil Lahadalia, Minister of Investment, and HE Sandiaga Uno, Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, in heralding the implementation of the UAE-Indonesia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which came into force on September 1, 2023. Both sides agreed to work in unison to ensure they deliver on the projection of US$10 billion in bilateral non-oil trade within five years.

HE Dr Thani also met with senior representatives of KADIN, the Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, to enhance private-sector collaboration in priority sectors and accelerate bilateral trade flows. Agriculture, energy, logistics, tourism and the Islamic economy were identified as those with the most promise for two-way trade and investment.

His Excellency later held talks with HE Cham Nimul, Minister of Commerce for Cambodia, with whom the UAE signed a CEPA in June this year. They discussed timelines for the implementation process and how best to leverage the opportunities created by the deal. HE Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi then met the Honourable Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry for Malaysia, to assess the progress of negotiations towards their CEPA with the UAE.

Bilateral meetings were also held with Nguyen Hong Dien, Minister of Industry and Trade for Vietnam, which centered on accelerating the progress of CEPA negotiations, preparations for MC13, and investment opportunities in areas of shared interest, in particular renewable energy, food security and the green economy. There were also meetings with Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Minister for Trade and Industry for the Philippines and HE Francisco Kalbuadi Lay, Deputy Prime Minister of Timor-Leste.

His Excellency Al Zeyoudi also held talks with John WH Denton AO, Secretary General of International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), during which he discussed the positive outcomes of the recent B20 Summit held in India, and shed light on preparations for the forthcoming MC13.


UAE-ASEAN relations

The wider UAE-ASEAN relationship, which was cemented in 2022 with the UAE’s signing of the ASEAN’s Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, was discussed during HE Dr Thani’s meeting with ASEAN Secretary General HE Dr Kao Kim Hourn, and Deputy Secretary-General HE Satvinder Singh. They reviewed the recently revealed trade figures for H1 2023, which showed that the UAE and ASEAN shared US$15.3 billion in trade, a 2% increase on H1 2022, and restated their commitment to fostering greater economic collaboration. According to HE Al Zeyoudi, the ASEAN bloc represented 5.2 percent of the UAE’s total non-oil foreign trade in 2022, reaching US$32.2 million.

On Day 2 of the summit, HE Al Zeyoudi highlighted the increasing importance of ASEAN to the UAE’s foreign trade agenda during a special session titled Innovation, Sustainability, and Prosperity: Strengthening the UAE-ASEAN Partnership. In his keynote address, he said that the nations of South-East Asia are natural trade and investment partners for the UAE as they all share pro-growth, pro-trade agendas, and that there are limitless opportunities in sectors such as agriculture, renewable energy, advanced technology, logistics and sustainable travel and tourism that can be developed.

HE Al Zeyoudi commented: “The ASEAN Business and Investment Summit is an event that shapes the economic agenda of one of the most dynamic regions in the world – and the conversations and resolutions that take place here resonate far beyond South-East Asia. I believe that, as the economic center of gravity continues to shift eastwards, the UAE and ASEAN can form a powerful new corridor of opportunity, one that can direct capital into high-growth sectors, develop new solutions in food security and energy transition, and create clusters of excellence in the industries of the future.

“Our CEPA program, which includes completed deals with Indonesia and Cambodia, and the launch of negotiations with Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, underlines our confidence in these economies – and their role in delivering a new Asian Future,” he added.

His Excellency was also the guest of honor at a special private-sector roundtable organized by the Asia House think tank to discuss the evolving UAE-ASEAN relationship. During the briefing, HE Dr Thani expanded on the country’s foreign-trade agenda, its increasing role in global trade policy and its desire to build stronger trade and investment ties with ASEAN, which is considered to be an important new center of growth. The audience was comprised of representatives of leading multinational companies.

His Excellency Al Zeyoudi was joined in Indonesia by a UAE delegation that included HE Abdulla Salem Al Dhaheri, Ambassador of UAE in the Republic of Indonesia; HE Abdalla Sultan Al Owais; Vice Chairman of the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) and Chairman of Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry; HE Jamal Saif Al Jarwan Al Shamsi, Secretary General of the UAE International Investors Council; Mr. Ahmad Ibrahim Almutawa, Regional CEO of Abu Dhabi Ports Group; Mr. Dawood Al Shezawi, Chairman of Annual Investment Meeting (AIM); Mr. Abdul Saleem VI, COO of Lulu Group International, as well as representatives of Abu Dhabi Ports Group, Dubai Chambers, DMCC, G42 Healthcare and other business leaders and investors.

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