Dubai (Shutterstock) (Shutterstock)

Agreement expected to thrust Israel into one of the UAE’s top 10 trading partners.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

Israel and the United Arab Emirates are closing in on a free trade agreement that could potentially be signed before the summer, according to Emirati reports.

The talks were first launched in November.

“The governments are in advanced negotiation about the free trade agreement, which we hope will be accomplished before summer,” said Hamad Buamim, President and CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Buamim, said he expects agreement will thrust Israel into one of the UAE’s top 10 trading partners within 5-10 years.

He was speaking at the Dubai-Israel: Future Horizons Mission Forum on Tuesday. The gathering included a delegation of 50 Israeli businessmen led by Ittai Ben-Zeev, chief executive of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE).

TASE signed an agreement with the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) in December 2020 to look into opportunities to grow Israeli and Emirati capital markets. The ADX and the Dubai Financial Market are two of the three largest Arab stock markets.

Ben-Zeev told The National, an Emirati paper, that he doesn’t expect the Russia-Ukraine war to significantly Middle East equity markets or the Israeli stock market.

“I don’t see any specific implication for Israel or for the Middle East because of the conflict,” Ben-Zeev said, adding that he feels the crisis would present more opportunities for international investment in the region.

The Emirati Ambassador to Israel, Mohammed Al Khaja, praised the expanding cooperation.

“Towards that end, we must link our financial institutions, ease financial transactions, the flow of capital and investments to realize the true potential of the two markets working together in unison,” the ambassador said.

“By partnering we can increase the competitiveness of companies in both countries and better compete in the international arena. Israeli companies are warmly invited to take advantage of opportunities to pilot, grow and build mega-scale projects in and with the help of the UAE’s business sector.”

The UAE-Israel Business Council estimates that trade between the two countries will reach $2 billion by the end of 2022. Key areas of trade include renewable energy projects in solar power and water, tourism, oil and gas, agriculture, and diamonds.

Other areas of potential cooperation include aerospace and defense, Emirati investments in Israeli tech companies, and the establishment of Israeli businesses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.