Israel signs free trade deal with UAE

Isreal and UAE officials as they sign free trade deal. [Photo: Twitter/yairlapid]

Israel signed a free trade deal with the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, its first with an Arab country, building on their US-brokered normalisation of relations in 2020, news agency AFP reported.

Israel’s ambassador to the oil-rich UAE, Amir Hayek, Tweeted “mabruk” – congratulations in Arabic – with a photo of Emirati and Israeli officials holding documents at a signing ceremony in Dubai.

The report said Emirati envoy to Israel, Mohamed Al Khaja, hailed as an “unprecedented achievement” the deal that, according to the Israeli side, scraps customs duties on 96 percent of all products traded.

“Businesses in both countries will benefit from faster access to markets and lower tariffs as our nations work together to increase trade, create jobs, promote new skills and deepen cooperation,” Khaja tweeted, as per the report.

The 2020 normalisation deal was part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords that also saw Israel establish diplomatic ties with Bahrain and Morocco.

Two-way trade between Israel and the UAE last year totalled some $900 million dollars, according to Israeli figures accessed by the news agency.

UAE-Israel Business Council president Dorian Barak predicted that trade would soon multiply between the regional powerhouse economies.

“UAE-Israel trade will exceed $2 billion in 2022, rising to around $5 billion in five years, bolstered by collaboration in renewables, consumer goods, tourism and the life sciences sectors,” the report said quoting the statement.

“Dubai is fast becoming a hub for Israeli companies that look to South Asia, the Middle East and the Far East as markets for their goods and services.”

Nearly 1,000 Israeli companies will be working in and through the UAE by year’s end, the report quoted him as saying.

The UAE was the first Gulf country to normalise ties with Israel and only the third Arab nation to do so after Egypt and Jordan.

Talks for a free trade agreement began in November and concluded after four rounds of negotiations.

The latest was held in March in Egypt between Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, UAE’s long-time de facto ruler who became president this month after the death of his ailing half-brother Sheikh Khalifa.

Israel had in March hosted a meeting of the top diplomats from the United States, UAE, Bahrain and Morocco.


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