Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and United Arab Emirates Ambassador to Israel Mohamed Al Khaja signed a bilateral customs pact in Jerusalem on Sunday, the most important and final portion of a historic free trade agreement between the two countries.
The free trade agreement covers 95% of bilateral trade, which reached $885 million in 2021 and has continued growing. It covers a wide range of products, such as medical equipment, agriculture, food and cosmetics.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who attended Sunday’s ceremony, welcomed the realization of the free trade agreement.
“The historic peace accord we signed with the UAE continues to bear fruit for the benefit of the citizens of both countries,” Netanyahu said. “I am positive that we will continue to expand Israel’s circle of peace with other regional neighbors.”
The UAE followed through with this economic pact despite reportedly considering downgrading its diplomatic mission in Israel.
UAE representatives also welcomed the trade agreement’s finalization.
“This puts the meat on the bones,” an Emirati diplomat told The Times of Israel.
Israel and the UAE laid the groundwork for a mutual free trade agreement during an initial signing ceremony in the Emirati metropolis of Dubai in May. It marked the first time an Arab state signed a free trade agreement with Israel.
At the time, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani Al Zeyoudi said that the UAE-Israeli agreement was also important for the wider Middle East.
“Throughout the last year and a half, we have proven what can be achieved when differences and arguments are put to the side. … We have no doubt that this agreement will lay the path to a new era of economic prosperity in our region,” he said.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.