The United Arab Emirates and Israel seal their free trade agreement

Posted on Apr 16, 2022 at 2:00 p.m

A free trade agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Israel was signed on April 1ah last April. Planned since last November, accelerated in December by Naftali Benett’s historic visit to Abu Dhabi, he plans to eliminate tariffs on almost 95% of the products traded between the two new partners, particularly in the agricultural, cosmetic and medical sectors. According to official Israeli data, the exchange in 2021 has already reached $900 million.

Six months and four rounds of negotiations were enough to seal the deal, which is a speed record: the norm for building such cooperation is usually counted in years. “It shows that we on both sides are excited to promote bilateral ties on all fronts, especially on the economic front,” said an Israeli diplomatic source contacted from Dubai.

10 billion mutual funds

Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani al-Zeyoudi tweeted an “important deal that will solidify promising trade ties” as the global economy struggles to emerge from the Covid crisis. Resilience and opportunity are the keywords of this major paradigm shift, ushered in a year and a half ago by the normalization of relations between Israel and a group of Arab countries with the Emirates as scout. The two countries have also initiated the establishment of a joint investment fund, which will be endowed with 10 billion dollars.

It is up to the two respective parliaments to ratify the text. Despite a new chaotic internal political situation in the Knesset since April 6 and the loss of its majority to the Benett coalition. In pro-government circles, the opposition around Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to exercise the same discipline as when they were in charge of ratifying the so-called “Abraham” accords.

The Bypassed Palestinian File

The meeting of Naftali Bennett and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammad ben Zayed on March 21-22 in Egypt was a key moment in the negotiations. It strikes a new regional arc that goes beyond Israel-Emirati relations. The Arab countries they denounce seem increasingly isolated, with the Palestinian Authority at the forefront.

But it is precisely one criticism aimed at Israel: the fact that the Palestinian file to postpone the settlement is being sidestepped by targeting that part of the Arab world that has in common the fight against Iranian influence. An accusation that the spokesman for the State Department brushed aside at a meeting with the Association of Defense Journalists in Jerusalem in early April: “We thought that the road to Abu Dhabi went through Ramallah, then the road to Ramallah through Abu Dhabi,” he observes Diplomat. “Today we understand that these can be two different paths. »

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