DUBAI: Trade between Israel and the UAE is expected to exceed $2 billion this year as the two nations signed a free trade agreement on Tuesday, the first big trade accord with an Arab state and a move aimed at boosting trade between the two Middle East nations.
The pact was signed by Israel's Minister of Economy and Industry Orna Barbiva and her counterpart, UAE Minister of Economy Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, after months of negotiations.
"Done," Israel's Ambassador to the UAE Amir Hayek said on Twitter, replying to another tweet he posted earlier saying "the UAE and Israel will sign FTA in the next hour."
Dorian Barak, co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council told Arab News: “UAE-Israel trade will exceed $2 billion in 2022, rising to around $5 billion in 5 years, bolstered by collaboration in renewables, consumer goods, tourism, and the life sciences sectors.
“Additionally, 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. Nearly 1,000 Israeli companies will be working in and through the UAE by year’s end. It’s unprecedented.”
Israel’s Economy Ministry said on Monday that customs duties will be eliminated on 96 percent of products, including food, agriculture, cosmetics, medical equipment and medicine.
It also includes regulation, customs, services and government procurement.
The UAE and Israel formally established relations in 2020 as part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords that also included Bahrain and Morocco.
For the oil-rich UAE, the deal with Israel is its second bilateral free trade agreement after signing a similar accord with India in February. It is in bilateral trade talks with several other countries, including Indonesia and South Korea.
The UAE has been aggressively pursuing these deals in a bid to strengthen its economy following the hit it took from the coronavirus pandemic.
(With input from Reuters)