Israel to finalize UAE free trade agreement, a first with an Arab state

The FTA covers 96% of the trade between the countries, which stood last year at $885 million.

 Israeli President Isaac Herzog and then UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan meet in Abu Dhabi, Jan. 30, 2022.  (photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)
Israeli President Isaac Herzog and then UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan meet in Abu Dhabi, Jan. 30, 2022.
(photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)

Israel is set to finalize its free trade agreement with the United Arab Emirates in Dubai on Tuesday, marking the first time it has come to such a wide-ranging economic arrangement with an Arab state.

First FTA with an Arab state

“This is a visit of strategic importance to the economic relations between the State of Israel and the United Arab Emirates, in which I will sign the free trade agreement and promote a number of economic partnerships,” said Economy and Industry Minister Orna Barbivai, who will be in Dubai to sign the document.

“Together we will remove barriers and promote comprehensive trade and new technologies,” she said.

“This is a free, full, first trade agreement with an Arab state, which takes place so soon after the establishment of diplomatic relations.”

"This is a free, full, first trade agreement with an Arab state, which takes place so soon after the establishment of diplomatic relations."

Economy and Industry Minister Orna Barbivai

 ISRAEL, UAE AND BAHRAIN sign the Abraham Accords at the White House in 2020. Had the Heavens gifted Israel with reprieve from diplomatic ‘tsunamis,’ but not bestowed upon it the blessings of the Abraham Accords – dayenu. (credit: TOM BRENNER/REUTERS) ISRAEL, UAE AND BAHRAIN sign the Abraham Accords at the White House in 2020. Had the Heavens gifted Israel with reprieve from diplomatic ‘tsunamis,’ but not bestowed upon it the blessings of the Abraham Accords – dayenu. (credit: TOM BRENNER/REUTERS)

The agreement comes less than two years after Israel and the UAE established full diplomatic ties under the rubric of the Abraham Accords. Based on the accords, Israel also normalized ties with Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.

Israel also has a limited free-trade agreement with Jordan, but it does not reach the same level as this document, which is more along the lines of Israel’s FTAs with the United States and the European Union.

What does the FTA cover?

This agreement covers 96% of the trade between Israel and the UAE, which stood last year at $885 million.

That is more than double Israel’s $330m. in trade with Egypt in 2021, even though the two countries have had a peace agreement since 1979.

According to the Economy and Industry Ministry, the level of trade in 2020 stood at $120m. and at $1m. in 2010.

The government approved a plan on Sunday to increase trade with Egypt to $700m. that includes refurbishing and expanding the border crossing between the two countries at Nitzana.

The new economic plan targets the agricultural and construction industries. It also speaks of increasing flights between Israel and Egypt as well as joint alternative energy projects such as a solar field.

Israel has 19 free trade agreements, including the one with the UAE.