‘Historic’: Israel, UAE conclude free trade agreement

“This is the first full free trade agreement with an Arab country and is taking place so shortly after the establishment of diplomatic relations.”

By World Israel News Staff

Economy and Industry Minister Maj.-Gen. (Ret.) Orna Barbivay and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Minister of State for Foreign Trade Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi announced the conclusion of negotiations on a comprehensive bilateral free trade agreement.

The Abraham Accords, which were signed in September 2020, are the basis for diplomatic relations between the State of Israel and the UAE. One year later, in November 2021, negotiations began on a bilateral free trade agreement, which were concluded Friday.

The matter was discussed by Prime Minister Bennett and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi last December, when it was agreed to accelerate contacts ahead of the signing, and at their meeting in Egypt last week, where the leaders agreed on to complete the agreement within days.

“The completion of the negotiations is a historic event,” Barbivay stated. “This is the first full free trade agreement with an Arab country and is taking place so shortly after the establishment of diplomatic relations.”

The discussions continued for five months and included four rounds of negotiations and expedited work by both sides’ negotiating teams in order to complete the discussions as quickly as possible.

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The Israeli negotiating team was led by Economy and Industry Ministry Foreign Trade Administration Director Ohad Cohen and included representatives of the Economy and Industry Ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Agriculture Ministry, the Tax Authority Customs Dept., the Foreign Ministry and the Justice Ministry.

The agreement will include – inter alia – issues regarding trade in goods such as regulation, standards, customs, trade in services, cooperation, government procurement, electronic trade and trademarks.

Since the signing of the Abraham Accords, trade between the UAE and Israel has grown significantly and reached a scope of almost $900 million in 2021. The potential for trade between the two economies is much greater and includes many fields such as energy, health, digitization, medical equipment, water (desalination, purification, conservation and smart management), agriculture, cyber, Fintech and diamond exports.

The agreement also advances bilateral trade in services by assuring regulatory certainty in fields such as electronic trade, professional and business services, distribution services (wholesale and retail) and computers.

“We have succeeded, within a short time, in concluding wide-ranging and comprehensive negotiations with a country with which we h no economic relations until 18 months ago,” Cohen said.

“The desire by both sides to conclude the negotiations quickly and efficiently, while maintaining the interests of both countries, proves that this is a long-term partnership that will continue to develop and expand into different areas.”

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