Israel signs ‘historic’ deal with ex-rival — Analysis

Abu Dhabi, Tel Aviv and Tel Aviv signed a free-trade agreement which will reduce most of the customs tariffs

Five months of negotiations between Israel and United Arab Emirates ended with the signing of a free-trade agreement. It follows up on the Abraham Accords, which formalized relations between both countries.

Israel’s Minister of Economy and Industry Orna Barbivai and the UAE’s Foreign Trade Minister, Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, met in Jerusalem for a fourth and final round of talks on Tuesday, finally signing the agreement on Friday.

“Since the establishment of the Abraham Accords, the Economy and Industry Ministry has been working to expand economic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and to realize its economic potential,” said Barbivai.

“The finalization of the negotiations is a significant and historic milestone in the relationship between the countries and we will continue to assist the Israeli business community in establishing trade relations in the United Arab Emirates,”She added.

On Friday, the UAE’s foreign trade minister tweets that “This milestone deal will build on the historic Abraham Accords and cement one of the world’s most important and promising emerging trading relationships.”

The agreement, which took over five months to negotiate, will reportedly see some 95% of products traded between Israel and the UAE – such as food, agriculture, cosmetic products, medical equipment and medicine –  become customs free, immediately or gradually, said the Israeli economy minister.

Israeli PM makes ‘surprise visit’ to Egypt – media

Additionally, she announced that the agreement will include regulation, customs services, procurement by the government, e-commerce, intellectual property protection, and other related areas.

According to reports, the UAE and Israel had a bilateral trade volume of $900 million by 2021. They normalized their relations in 2020 under the US-brokered Abraham Accords. They were designed to bring peace and strengthen cooperation between the countries of the Middle East.

Israel hosted earlier this week a summit. It invited top diplomats of the UAE and Bahrain to attend. The US has been establishing normal relations with Israel since 2020. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also made a “surprise visit” to Egypt alongside the UAE’s crown prince to host trilateral talks and discuss “shared security interests.”

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