THE AUSTRALIAN government is to begin negotiations with the United Arab Emirates on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement in the new year.

A statement from the government said the agreement would drive Australian exports and economic growth.

The UAE is a gateway to the Middle East region and beyond, with two-way goods and services trade valued at $9.26 billion in 2022.

The UAE is already a key market for Australian goods and services exports including alumina, meat, oil seeds, and education, with three Australian universities having campuses in-country.

The government said a trade agreement with the UAE would create new commercially meaningful opportunities for Australian goods and services exporters seeking to diversify trade.

Minister for trade and tourism Don Farrell said a trade deal with the UAE would strengthen the relationship with one of Australia’s most important trading partners in the Middle East.

“More trade means more export opportunities for Australian businesses, more national income, and more well-paying local jobs,” he said.