Israel signed a free trade agreement with the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, its 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 in Dubai 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”.
The UAE Ambassador to Israel, Mohamed Al Khaja, said the agreement was an “unprecedented achievement”. “Businesses in both countries will benefit from faster access to markets and lower tariffs as our nations work together to increase trade, create jobs, promote new skills and deepen cooperation,” he added. President of the UAE-Israel Business Council Dorian Barak said the trade agreement defined tax rates, imports and intellectual property, which would encourage more Israeli companies to set up offices in the UAE, particularly in Dubai.
The council predicts there will be almost 1,000 Israeli companies working in or through the UAE by the end of the year doing business with South Asia, the Far East and Middle East.
“The domestic market doesn’t represent the entirety of the opportunity. The opportunity is really setting up in Dubai, as many companies have, in order to target the broader region,” Barak told Reuters by phone.
Ahead of the signing, Israel’s economy ministry had said the accord would remove tariffs on food, agriculture, cosmetics, medical equipment and medicine.
“Together we will remove barriers and promote comprehensive trade and new technologies, which will form a solid foundation for our common path, will contribute to the well-being of citizens and make it easier to do business,” Israel’s Minister of Economy and Industry Orna Barbivai said on Monday.
The agreement has been signed amid escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence.AGENCIES