Israel signs UAE free trade deal, its first with an Arab state

ISRAEL signed a free trade deal with the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, its first with an Arab country, building on their US-brokered normalisation of relations in 2020.

Israel’s ambassador to the UAE, Amir Hayek, tweeted “mabruk” — or congratulations in Arabic — alongside a photograph of Emirati and Israeli officials holding documents at a signing ceremony in Dubai.

Israel has described as “historic” the deal abolishing customs duties on “96 percent of the products” exchanged between the two sides.

The 2020 normalisation deal reached between the two countries was one of a series of US-brokered agreements known as the Abraham Accords.

Two-way trade last year totalled some $900 million dollars, according to Israeli figures.

The UAE was the first Gulf country to normalise ties with Israel and only the third Arab nation to do so after Egypt and Jordan.  

Talks for a free trade agreement began in November and concluded after four rounds of negotiations.

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

Israel hosted in March a summit of top diplomats from the United States and three Arab states — the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco — with which it has normalised ties since 2020.

Sudan also agreed to normalise ties with Israel, although it has yet to finalise a deal.

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

In February, Israel signed a trade deal with Rabat to designate special industrial zones in Morocco. — AFP


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