Israel has signed a free trade agreement with the United Arab Emirates, the first of its kind in the Arab world.

Israel has signed a free trade agreement with the United Arab Emirates, the first of its kind in the Arab world.

Initially, 1,000 Israeli companies will operate in and through the UAE by the end of the year.

Dubai:

Israel signed a free trade agreement with the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, the first of its kind with an Arab country, based on the normalization of their US-brokered relations in 2020.

Israel’s ambassador to the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, Amir Hayek, tweeted “Mabrouk” – congratulations in Arabic – with a picture of the UAE and Israeli officials holding documents at a signing ceremony in Dubai.

The UAE’s ambassador to Israel, Mohammed al-Khawaja, hailed the agreement as an “unprecedented achievement” that, according to the Israeli side, abolished tariffs on 96 percent of all goods.

Khwaja tweeted, “Businesses from both countries will benefit from faster access to markets and lower tariffs as our countries work together to increase trade, create jobs, promote new skills and deepen cooperation.”

The 2020 normalization agreement was part of the US-brokered Abraham Accord, which also saw Israel establish diplomatic relations with Bahrain and Morocco.

Last year, bilateral trade between Israel and the UAE totaled 900 million, according to Israeli statistics.

Dorian Barak, president of the UAE-Israel Business Council, predicts that trade between the regional powerhouse economies will soon increase.

“The UAE-Israel trade will exceed 2 2 billion in 2022, rising to about বিল 5 billion in five years, strengthened by cooperation in the renewable, consumer goods, tourism and life sciences sectors,” he said in a statement.

“Dubai is fast becoming a hub for Israeli companies that see South Asia, the Middle East and the Far East as markets for their products and services.”

About 1,000 Israeli companies will operate in and through the UAE by the end of the year, he said.

Trade diplomacy

The UAE was the first Gulf country to normalize relations with Israel and the third Arab country to do so after Egypt and Jordan.

Negotiations for a free trade agreement began in November and ended after four rounds of talks.

The latest was held in March between Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Egypt and the longtime de facto ruler of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who became president this month after the death of his ailing half-brother Sheikh Khalifa.

Israel hosted a meeting of top diplomats from the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco in March.

Sudan also agreed to normalize relations with Israel in 2020, but the conflict-torn North East African country has yet to finalize an agreement.

Israel has already signed free trade agreements with other countries and blocs, including the United States, the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

In February, Israel signed a trade agreement with Rabat to designate a special industrial zone in Morocco.

Palestine issue

The Abraham Treaty broke with the long-standing Pan-Arab policy of isolating Israel until it withdrew from the occupied territories and took over the statehood of Palestine.

Palestinians have condemned the deal struck under then-US President Donald Trump, and the conflict, including between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, has escalated tensions.

The signing took place on Tuesday, two days after thousands of Israeli flag-bearers marched through the Old City of Jerusalem during a nationalist procession marking the 1967 occupation of East Jerusalem by Israel.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1980, which was not recognized by the international community.

The United Arab Emirates on Monday “strongly condemned” Israel’s “storm” at the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, one of the holiest sites in Islam.

The UAE “reiterated its firm position on the need for full protection for the Al-Aqsa Mosque and that serious and provocative violations taking place there must be stopped,” the official WAM news agency reported.

(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)

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