Israel wooing Emirati supermarket chains to Jewish State

A handful of Israeli manufacturers and importers enjoy a virtual monopoly over the domestic consumer goods market, eliciting public outcry.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

On the heels of growing pushback from the public focused on inflated price tags for everyday goods, ballooning housing prices and rents, and the overall rising cost of living in the Jewish State, the Israeli government is reportedly in talks to bring several supermarket chains operating in the United Arab Emirates to Israel.

Globes reported that senior officials from Israel’s Economy Ministry are attempting to convince the chains to set up shop in Israel, out of hope that bringing new players to the market will drive down prices for consumers.

British-owned Waitrose, Abu Dhabi-based Lulu Group, and French industry titan Carrefour are rumored to be among the supermarket chains operating in the UAE that the government is currently wooing.

A handful of Israeli manufacturers and importers enjoy a virtual monopoly over the domestic consumer goods market, and public outcry over disproportionately expensive prices have sparked mass protests since 2011.

A recent planned price hike by Israeli company Osem, which manufactures staples such as grain and pasta products, drew widespread public ire.

After government pressure, Osem backed down from raising its prices.

Sources told Globes that the ministry’s director general Ron Malka is currently deep in negotiations aimed at establishing a free trade agreement between Israel and the UAE.

The agreement is expected to be signed as early as April 2022.

Because the Gulf kingdom has existing agreements with several Arab and European countries, and after signing a deal with the Emirates, Israel could potentially leverage the UAE’s connections with its trading partners for duty-free trade with those nations.

According to the Globes report, Israel is also in the process of establishing similar free trade agreements with China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, and Belarus.

At present, the Jewish State is part of free trade agreements with the U.S., UK, Ukraine, and numerous Central and South American countries.