JERUSALEM ( Associated Press) – Israel and the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday signed a free trade agreement, the first of its kind that Israel has concluded with an Arab country.
The UAE agreed to normalize ties with Israel in 2020 in a US-brokered deal, the first of the so-called Abrahamic Agreement, which Israel eventually concluded with four Arab countries. Since then, the two countries have increased cooperation in several economic areas.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted, “Israel and the UAE signed a historic free trade agreement – the first of this scope to be signed between Israel and an Arab state.” “It was the fastest FTA to be signed in the history of Israel.”
Mohamed Al Khaza, UAE’s ambassador to Israel, called it “an unprecedented achievement”.
“Businesses in both countries will benefit from faster access to markets and lower tariffs as our countries work together to increase trade, create jobs, foster new skills and deepen cooperation,” he tweeted.
UAE-Israel Business Council President Dorian Barak predicted that bilateral trade will exceed $2 billion this year, rising to $5 billion in the next five years.
“Dubai is fast becoming a hub for Israeli companies that look to South Asia, the Middle East and the Far East as markets for their goods and services,” he said. “About 1,000 Israeli companies will operate in and through the UAE by the end of the year. It’s unprecedented.”
Israel has more limited commercial relations with neighbors Jordan and Egypt, Arab countries that signed peace treaties with Israel decades ago.
In the years prior to the Abrahamic Agreement, Israel had steadily increased cooperation with Gulf Arab states such as the United Arab Emirates, which share its security concerns regarding Iran.
Supporters of the agreement see it as a historic breakthrough in Middle East diplomacy. The Palestinians dismissed the agreement as a betrayal of their purpose because they broke a long-standing Arab consensus that any normalization with Israel should come in return for progress in the long-standing peace process. needed.