The Potential for a Free Trade Agreement between the UAE and UK

exporting to uae from uk

In the new post-Brexit environment, the UAE's role as one of Britain's top trading partners proves even-more prominent. It may surprise you just how pivotal the Emirates is in Britain's international trade relationships, with the trading opportunity between the UK and UAE looking to grow even more vital. What's in the cards for the ties between these powerhouses? Discover the potential for a Free Trade Agreement between the UAE and the UK. 


The weight of entities exporting to the UAE from the UK

Did you know that the UAE is the United Kingdom's fifth-largest market for exporting outside of Europe? The British Business Group calculated £18.2 billion in mutual trade of services and goods between the countries. The organisation also predicts that this total will increase to £25 billion next year (2022). It's not just limited to monetary amounts. The UAE is one of the top foreign destinations for British professionals, with more than 120,000 Britons in the country and 5,000 British businesses setting up their head offices there. 

With Brexit, Emirati officials believe that the next golden opportunity lies in the Gulf. The UAE's ambassador to the UK, Mansoor Abulhol, noted that the UAE's status as the UK's top Gulf export market offers a robust foundation to further cement closer collaboration. Not only that, the UK is the UAE's third-largest non-oil commodities trading partner. Britons also represented 60% of the UAE's total FDI balance at the end of 2018. 

What should we expect now? The UAE's Minister of Economy, Abdulla bin Touq al Marri, stated in a November 2020 Bloomberg webinar that the UK would prove critical for the country's post-COVID recovery as it seeks to create stronger post-Brexit ties for a more sustainable return to growth. With Marri citing Research and Development as the bedrock of the Emirati economy with innovation, human capital and knowledge driving it, the sectors most ripe for these increased partnerships between Brits and Emiratis include financial services, education, data analytics and healthcare. 

What do British experts think about the possibilities? In the same webinar, Lord Grimstone (the UK's Minister of Investment) hoped for an official Free Trade Agreement between the UAE and the UK in 2021. Lord Grimstone's newly-created office looks to support opportunities for strategic, high-level investment in Britain aligning with government priorities, with R&D chief among them. 


What other incentives are there to attract more UK companies and citizens to the UAE?

Firstly, Britons will significantly benefit from recent reforms in the Emirates concerning business and residency. With expanded categories for long-term residence permits through the Gold Card visa scheme, the more than 100,000 British citizens living in the UAE have more possibilities to establish themselves long-term. That's compared to the short-term employment-based visas predominating residence permits. The Retirement Visa also offers already-retired Brits the chance to spend their golden years there. 

As for corporations, the recent change to the Commercial Companies to Law to allow for full foreign ownership in Mainland companies, investing and residing in the UAE will get more attractive to Brits than ever. The move to get rid of the previous local majority stake requirements was deemed especially beneficial to Brits. It offers businesses more company formation chances besides the already-prestigious Free Zones. With a double-tax treaty in existence between the UAE and the UK, the financial conditions, along with the ease of doing business, make the Emirates more appealing than before. 


Are you interested in becoming part of the robust British-Emirati economic relationship?

If you know you want to join the thousands of UK companies already operating in the UAE, look no further than Europe Emirates Group and our team of UAE company formation experts. We will assist you in choosing the appropriate structure and jurisdiction for your ventures. Plus, we are also full-service UK immigration consultants in the UAE who will secure your residency visa and see to every last detail to make your entry into the UAE the most welcoming. What's next? Schedule your initial consultation with us today. 



Written by
Adrian Oton
Adrian Oton

CEO, Europe Emirates Group  

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