The tiny EU country of Luxembourg and the United States agreed on Friday to work more closely on projects in space, including research and exploration as well as defence and commerce.

In the last few years, the grand duchy of Luxembourg has moved to join the US at the forefront of what has been dubbed the new space race.

The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on Friday to boost research, exploration, defence, and space commerce as well as tackle problems like regulatory reform and .

"It covers the broadest possible range of space activities to be undertaken by the two countries as an important next wave of economic growth," US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said during a visit to Luxembourg to sign the deal.

Etienne Schneider, Luxembourg's deputy and economy minister, said the deal was "another important step forward" to enhance international space cooperation.

In 2015, the United States adopted the Space Act to allow for the exploration and commercial exploitation of space resources.

In 2017, Luxembourg introduced a law guaranteeing space companies ownership of resources acquired in space, the first country to do so in the 28-nation European Union.

Luxembourg has already signed space agreements with the United Arab Emirates, Japan and China as well as fellow EU countries Poland, the Czech Republic and Belgium.

In total, some 20 private firms involved in space work have established themselves in Luxembourg, officials said.

Schneider said the field accounts for two percent of tiny Luxembourg's Gross Domestic Product.