The UAE and Israel have inked a free trade deal today less than two years after normalizing the ties. This is Tel Aviv’s first major commercial agreement with an Arab country, and it aims to increase commerce between the two sides.
Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry, and his Emirati counterpart at the Ministry of Economy, inked the agreement in Dubai. After long months of tense discussions, an agreement was reached on Tuesday.
In response to the achievement, Amir Hayek, Israeli ambassador at Abu Dhabi, tweeted, “Done.” He had tweeted another post an hour earlier, stating that “the UAE and Israel will sign FTA in the next hour.”
The trade deal addressed tax rate, exports, and technological cooperation, according to the chairman of the Israel-UAE Business Board. The initiatives, according to Dorian Barak, would induce more Israeli firms to expand operations in the UAE, notably in Dubai.
By the end of 2022, the Council estimates that about 1,000 Israeli enterprises will be operating in or via the United Arab Emirates. This may make conducting business in regions like the Middle and Far East easier for Tel Aviv. Dorian Barak also explained that “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.”
Prior to the final announcement, Israel’s economics ministry stated that the deal will eliminate tariffs on 96% of items. Foods, farming, cosmetic products, medical devices, and medication will be in the free trade list.
The UAE estimates that the agreement would increase bilateral commerce to exceed over $10 billion annually in a period of less than five years.
UAE and Israel over the Horizon
“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,” these remarks by Trade minister of UAE might seem promising at the first glance.
A deeper look, however, might be revealing about the challenges that the two nations might face en route. As an Arab Nation, UAE is still under sharp public view that Israeli is an occupying force that oppresses its Arab brothers in Palestine.
The deal was made as tensions in Palestinian regions like the East Jerusalem and West Bank escalated during recent weeks. The Emirati foreign ministry denounced the invasion against Al-Aqsa complex two days ago. The ministry denounced what it called attacks by “extremist settlers” under the shield of Israeli soldiers.
Hours later, Ultra-nationalist Israeli nationals also marched through Palestinian sections of the Old City. While singing racist anti-Arab and anti-Islamic chants, they assaulted Palestinian people.
In a formal statement, foreign ministry also requested that Israeli officials assume accountability for minimizing violence and terminating the assaults. It also urged people to avoid actions that exacerbate tensions. The statement also emphasized the importance of exercising greatest moderation to avoid additional unrest.
The statements by the Emirati foreign ministry coincides those of the Ministry of Economy, giving rise to an inside contradiction. This is revealing about the nature of the cooperation between the two countries stemming from a deep opposing worldview.
Besides, Abu Dhabi would be able to contain the public pressure regarding cooperation with Israel up to a certain point. The breakout of the pressure may lead to an internal unrest inside UAE. As such, UAE and Israel are way far from normal partners.