On Tuesday, Israel and the United Arab Emirates signed a free trade agreement, its first with an Arab country, that reduces or eliminates tariffs and overtime targets, bringing annual bilateral trade to more than $10 billion.
The pact was signed in Dubai by Israel’s Minister of Economy and Industry, Orna Barbivai, and her counterpart, UAE Minister of Economy Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri, after months of negotiations.
Tariffs will be eliminated on 96 percent of goods with the UAE predicting the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement would boost bilateral trade to more than $10 billion a year within five years.
Emirati trade minister Thani Al Zeyoudi said the trade deal wrote “a new chapter in the history of the Middle East.” “Our agreement will accelerate growth, create jobs, and lead to a new era of peace, stability, and prosperity across the region,” he wrote on Twitter.
The agreement has been signed amid escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence.
The UAE foreign ministry on Monday condemned what it called a “storming” of Al Aqsa compound in Jerusalem by “extremist settlers under the protection of Israeli forces.”
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 the Middle East.