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Israel Signs Free Trade Deal With UAE: Its First-Ever in The Arab World

After months of negotiations, Israel and UAE signed a free trade agreement called “Comprehensive Economic Partnership” on Tuesday, 31st of May. This is Israel’s first big trade accord with an Arab country. The deal was signed in Dubai by Orna Barbivai, Israel’s Minister of Economy and Industry and her counterpart, UAE Minister of Economy, Abdulla bin Touq al-Marri. Dorian Barak, the current President of the UAE-Israel Business Council said that the trade agreement will define imports, tax rates and intellectual property. This would also boost trade relations and encourage the exchange of companies to set up their offices in both countries.

The Council has also predicted that there will be almost 1,000 Israeli companies working in or through the UAE by the end of this year, doing business with the Far East, the Middle East and South Asia. 

The signing of the trade deal opened “a new chapter in the history of the Middle East,” Thani Al Zeyoudi, Emirati Trade Minister wrote on Twitter. “Our agreement will accelerate growth, create jobs and lead to a new era of peace, stability, and prosperity across the region.” 

Israel and the UAE established bilateral ties in September 2020 in a deal facilitated by the United States. UAE-Israel Business Council president Dorian Barak also predicted that trade exchange will soon increase between the powerhouse economies. He also said in a statement, that, “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 free trade deal also known as the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement is expected to boost bilateral trade to more than $10bn a year within five years.

Orna Barbivai, Israel’s Minister of Economy and Industry said on Monday, “Together we will remove barriers and promote comprehensive trade and new technologies, which will form a solid foundation for our common path, will contribute to the well-being of citizens and make it easier to do business.” This trade agreement is the largest trade deal ever signed between Israel and any Arab country. According to Israel’s Economy Minister, this trade pact covers 96% of the trade between the two Middle Eastern countries, which last year reached up to $885 million.

Israeli Ambassador to the UAE, Amir Hayek announced the signing of the agreement on Twitter, writing “Done!” in response to an earlier tweet on the topic. The Prime Minister of Israel, Naftali Bennett praised the FTA and claimed it to be “historic” and the fastest to be signed in Israel’s history. He thanked the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohamed Bin Zayed for speeding the process.

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