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Israel and UAE agree ‘milestone’ free trade deal

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JERUSALEM: Israel and the UAE said Friday they had agreed on the terms of a free trade agreement to boost commercial relations following their normalization of ties, AFP is reporting.

Israel described as “historic” the deal abolishing customs duties on “95 percent of the products” exchanged between the Jewish state and Gulf Arab country.

The 2020 normalization deal reached between the two countries was one of a series of US-brokered agreements known as the Abraham Accords, and trade between them last year totalled some $900 million, according to Israeli figures.

Talks for a free trade agreement began in November and were concluded Friday after four rounds of negotiations, including last month in Egypt between Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and the UAE’s de facto leader, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

“The good relations forged between our two countries are strengthened today by this free trade agreement, which will significantly improve economic cooperation for the benefit of the citizens of both countries,” Bennett said.

The deal was now “ready for signature,” the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani Al-Zeyoudi said.

“This milestone deal will build on the historic Abraham Accords and cement one of the world’s most important and promising emerging trading relationships,” Zeyoudi said.

Israel this week hosted a summit of top diplomats from the United States and three Arab states — the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco — with which it has normalized ties since 2020.

Sudan also agreed to normalize ties with Israel, although it has yet to finalize a deal.

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