‘It’s done’: Israel signs free trade deal with Gulf state, UAE

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Israel on Tuesday signed a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), its first major trade deal with an Arab state and a move to boost trade between the two Middle Eastern countries.

The pact was signed in Dubai after months of negotiations.

“It’s done,” Israel’s Ambassador to the UAE, Amir Hayek, said on Twitter in response to another tweet he posted earlier saying that “the UAE and Israel will sign the ALE in the next hour”.

UAE-Israel Business Council Chairman Dorian Barak said the trade deal defines tax rates, imports and intellectual property, which would encourage more Israeli companies to open offices in the UAE, especially in Dubai. The council predicts there will be nearly 1,000 Israeli companies working in or through the UAE by the end of the year and doing business with South Asia, the Far East and the Middle -East.

“The domestic market is not the entire opportunity. The opportunity is really taking hold in Dubai, as many companies have done, in order to target the wider region,” said Barak to Reuters by phone.

Prior to the signing, Israel’s Economy Ministry said the deal would remove tariffs on food, agriculture, cosmetics, medical equipment and drugs.

“Together, we will remove barriers and promote global trade and new technologies, which will form a solid foundation for our common path, contribute to the well-being of citizens and facilitate business,” said the Israeli Minister of Economy and Economy. of Industry, Orna. Barbivai said on Monday.

The agreement was signed amid escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence.

The UAE Foreign Ministry on Monday condemned the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem by “extremist settlers under the protection of Israeli forces”.

The Foreign Ministry, in a written statement, also called on “Israeli authorities to take responsibility for reducing the escalation and ending all attacks and practices that lead to the continuation of tensions while stressing the need to exercise maximum restraint to avoid further instability”.

On the same day, invited media were informed that they could no longer attend the signing. No reason was given for this sudden change.

Al-Aqsa is the third holiest site in Islam and is also revered in Judaism as the Temple Mount – a remnant of the two ancient temples of their faith.

Israeli Barbivai told Israel Radio on Tuesday that she had heard “nothing out of the ordinary” about al-Aqsa violence so far during her visit to the United Arab Emirates.

For the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, the agreement with Israel is its second bilateral free trade agreement after signing a similar agreement with India in February. It is in bilateral trade talks with several other countries, including Indonesia and South Korea.

The UAE has aggressively pursued these deals in a bid to bolster its economy and status as a major trading hub after the hit it has taken from the coronavirus pandemic.

Israel and the United Arab Emirates established ties in September 2020 in a US-brokered deal that broke with decades of Arab policy that called for a Palestinian state before establishing ties with Israel .

Bahrain and Morocco also recognized Israel the same year.

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