Abu Dhabi: Israel and United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Tuesday signed a free trade agreement, the first of its kind between the Hebrew state and an Arab country. This deal is one of the most important economic fruits of the normalization of relations between the two trading powers, which began less than two years ago.
The agreement was signed in Dubai by the Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Orna Barbivai and the UAE Minister of Economy Abdullah bin Touq Al-Marri after negotiations that extended for several months.
Israeli ambassador to the UAE, Amir Hayek, announced the signing of the comprehensive economic partnership agreement between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi.
The Israeli ambassador to the UAE wrote on his Twitter account, “Congratulations” alongside a photo of the hundreds of pages of the agreement.
Israeli Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, described the agreement as historic, and said in a tweet, “Israel and the United Arab Emirates have now signed the first historic trade agreement between Israel and an Arab country.”
He continued, “I agreed with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed two months ago at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit that we would accomplish what usually takes 5 years in a few weeks, and we directed our teams to work at the maximum speed, and this is exactly what happened.”
Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel Yair Lapid took to Twitter and wrote, “A historic and important moment for the State of Israel. About an hour ago, the Minister of Economy, OrnaBarbivay, signed the universality of free trade with the United Arab Emirates. This is the first word of its kind with an Arab country to boost the Israeli economy and open new and exciting opportunities for all Israeli citizens.”
“I thank the Prime Minister, Minister of Economy, UAE Minister of Economy @Economyae, my dear friend @ABZayed, His Highness @MohamedBinZayed, Ambassador @HayekAmir, the Embassy staff in Abu Dhabi, and all the Foreign Ministry employees for their hard work to crystallize this agreement, their ability and their courage to develop a dream for the people of the region,” he added.
According to Emirati Trade Minister Thani al Zeyoudi, the free trade deal will push the value of non-oil bilateral trade between Israel and the UAE beyond $10 billion (€9.3 billion) within five years.
“Our agreement will accelerate growth, create jobs and lead to a new era of peace, stability, and prosperity across the region,” Thani al-Zeyoudi tweeted.
The UAE and Israel concluded negotiations on a free trade agreement on April 1, 2022.
The Israeli Ministry of Economy in a statement, then, had said that the commercial agreement includes 95 percent of the commercially traded products, which will be exempted from customs gradually or immediately, including food and agricultural products, cosmetics, medical equipment, and medicines.
The statement indicated that the agreement includes regulations, customs, services, government procurement, and e-commerce, and will be effective after the economy ministers sign and ratify the agreement.
The UAE was the first Gulf country and the third Arab country to normalize relations with Israel.
Official relations between the UAE and Israel began in 2020, within the normalization agreements that were mediated by the United States, and also included Bahrain and Morocco.
Since that date, a large number of agreements have been signed between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv in various fields.
Free trade agreement talks between the two countries began last November and concluded after four rounds of negotiations and dialogues, on March 21 and 22, 2022 in Egypt.