Israel-UAE Trade Agreement Will Open New Opportunities Further East

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Tel Aviv's Mayor, Ron Huldai (2L), Minister of State for Food and Water Security - United Arab Emirates, Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri (3L), Israeli President, Isaac "Bougie" Herzog (C), United Arab Emirates ambassador to Israel, Mohamed Al Khaja (3R), Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gabi Ashkenazi (2R) and Tel Aviv Stock Exchange CEO, Ittai Ben-Zeev (R) at the opening ceremony of the United Arab Emirates embassy in Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv, Jul 14, 2021. Photo by Eitan Elhadez-Barak/TPS
By Pesach Benson • 13 December, 2022

Jerusalem, 13 December, 2022 (TPS) — On the heels of Israel and the United Arab Emirates ratifying a historic free trade agreement on Sunday, businessman Dorian Barak insists that the deal will open significant new opportunities for Israelis to do business in the Mideast, India and Far East.

The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) aims to increase bilateral Israeli-Emirati trade to $10 billion within five years by removing tariffs on 96 percent of products. Barak, who is the president and co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council, applauded the agreement.

“It’s a symbolic hardening of the intent of both sides to make trade a foundation of the relationship,” Barak told the Tazpit Press Service.

Barak explained the free trade agreement will open up new opportunities for Israeli businesses beyond the Emirates.

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“Between Europe and Hong Kong, the UAE is the most important international trading hub because of its exceptional transportation and financial capabilities as a commercial center,” he said. Israeli businesses operating in the UAE “will increasingly come under the umbrella of large American and European-run projects across the region, either as suppliers of smart city technology, renewables tech, health care capabilities, and so on.”

Moreover, the UAE has what Barak described as “the most efficient public administration in the world,” making it easy for Israelis to do business there.

“The UAE’s not just important as a market in its own right. It’s a platform for Israeli businesses looking to tap into other markets,” he stressed. Figures on Israeli business in the Mideast, India and Far East won’t necessarily reflect that it was facilitated by the UAE, “so don’t judge the trade ties based on the dry numbers alone.”

Judging the ‘Dry Numbers’

According to Barak, there are already 300 Israeli businesses operating “in a substantial way” in the UAE. Much of the trade is in diamonds, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, building materials, “and what I’d call renewables, such as water purification systems, solar technologies, and everything in between.”

He noted that as of the end of October, bilateral trade reached $2.3 billion. “But that figure doesn’t include service trade, such as financial services, tourism and professional services. If you count them, we’re already at approximately $3 billion.”

“Our estimates are by 2025, we’ll see $5 billion in trade,” Barak said, adding, “And this number doesn’t include trade with other countries that is facilitated by the UAE.”

When asked what could prevent trade from hitting $10 billion within five years, he says Israeli attitudes.

“Tensions with Iran will reinforce closer ties with Israel’s partners in the Gulf,” Barak said. “If Israelis don’t recognize this is a business culture based on relationships, not just transactional exchange only, they’ll miss the opportunity. For Israelis to benefit, a deep relationship of trust and mutual confidence needs to develop.”

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