In the European Union, the agricultural sector employs approximately 22 million farmers and farm workers, with around 44 million jobs in food, drink and associated industries and services. On a global scale, the EU represents the largest, and one of the most trusted, food and drink industries.


Historically, food has played a significant role in Europe and the Middle East; not just in terms of commerce but also as a marker of celebrations and special moments. This shared appreciation for high quality and safe food and authentic flavours provides a basis for trade and investment cooperation among industry players in both regions.

At a glance:

  • There has been a 53% increase in EU-GCC trade over the last decade
  • In 2018, trade with the EU accounted for 14.6% of the GCC’s total trade, followed by China (12.2%), Japan (8.5%) and India (8.4%)
  • The most popular EU agri-food exports to Middle Eastern countries include: cereals, dairy products, chocolate and sugar confectionary

Informal discussions on an EU-GCC Free Trade Agreement began in May 2017 and are moving towards formal implementation. A series of bilateral cooperation agreements exist between the EU, UAE and other GCC countries.

Find out more:

EU-GCC trade policy

Trade Helpdesk 

Delegation of the European Union to the United Arab Emirates

Delegation of the European Union to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar

Delegation of the European Union to Kuwait



Are you a restauranteur or a hotelier, an aspiring chef or just a dedicated foodie? Are you interested in taking your business to the next level with EU agri-food products? 

Check out More Than Food B2B masterclasses throughout the Middle East. Come to taste and learn about Europe’s trusted farming techniques, streamlined safety standards and certified labelling schemes that make EU food and drink products ideal for your next menu or cooking event.