Israel signs trade deal with United Arab Emirates

JERUSALEM — Ministers from the governments of Israel and the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday signed a free trade agreement that, if rati...

JERUSALEM — Ministers from the governments of Israel and the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday signed a free trade agreement that, if ratified, would be the broadest such agreement between Israel and an Arab country and the latest example of deepening of ties between the Jewish state and some Arab governments.

The text of the agreement has not yet been released and is still subject to review by the Israeli parliament and formal ratification by the Israeli government, a process that will take at least two weeks. But officials said that once confirmed, the deal would ease restrictions on almost all trade between the two countries and could increase its annual value 10-fold within five years.

The speed at which the deal took shape – it has been sealed less than two years since the establishment of formal ties between Israel and the Emirates – highlights the willingness with which Israel is now accepted by some Arab leaders after years of diplomatic isolation.

For decades, Israel has been ostracized by all but two Arab countries, with the others mostly avoiding formal diplomatic relations with it due to the lack of resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

That changed in 2020, when Israel, under four agreements negotiated by the Trump administration, established diplomatic relations with Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, restored them with Morocco and improved relations with Sudan. .

The agreements reflected a change in priorities of these countries, which now see the creation of a Palestinian state as less important in the immediate future than the construction of a united front against the Iranian threat and the establishment of better commercial and military relations. with Israel.

The trade agreement signed Tuesday in Dubai by the Israeli and Emirati economy ministers – Orna Barbivay and Abdulla bin Touq al-Marri – is the most substantial consequence of these agreements.

The deal will lead to the removal of tariffs on 96% of goods traded between the two countries within five years, the two ministries said.

Bilateral trade was worth $885 million in 2021, Israel’s economy ministry said. The free trade agreement could see the annual value of trade reach $10 billion within five years, the UAE’s economy ministry said.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett describe the agreement as “historic”, and said the negotiations, which began at the time of Mr Bennett’s visit to the Emirates last December, led to “the fastest FTA to be signed in history of Israel”.

Mohamed Al Khaja, the Emirati ambassador to Israel, called him “an unprecedented achievement.”

According to the Israeli government, the agreement will boost trade in medicines, medical equipment, food, plastic products and fertilizers, as well as Israeli jewelry.

The agreement will also enhance bilateral cooperation on intellectual property rights, copyright and patents, particularly in the technology and agriculture sectors. It could also help Israeli and Emirati companies compete for government contracts in either country, according to the Israeli statement.

The agreement follows several other milestones in relations between Israel and its new Arab partners.

Mr. Bennett and several of his ministers have met their counterparts to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – visits once considered unthinkable – and some ministers have also visited Morocco. These warming ties have also strengthened Israel’s relationship with Egypt, its oldest Arab partner. Egypt and Israel reached a peace accord in 1979 but avoided establishing a warm relationship until the recent thaw between Israel, the Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.

In a sign of improving relations between Israel and Egypt, Mr Bennett met in Egypt in March with Mohammed bin Zayed, the Emirati leader, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi – another summit that would have been difficult to meet. imagine before. 2020.

Israel has also signed interim defense agreements with the Defense Ministries of Bahrain and Morocco, facilitating coordination and trade in military equipment between their armies. And in a very symbolic meeting in Marchthe foreign ministers of Israel, Egypt, Bahrain, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates and the United States met in southern Israel, at the retirement home of the founding prime minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion.

Jews living in the Emirates also observe their religious traditions more and more openly. Community leaders estimate the number of observant Jews residing in Dubai doubled to 500 in the past year, and at least five kosher restaurants opened during that time.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Israel signs trade deal with United Arab Emirates
Israel signs trade deal with United Arab Emirates
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