ALBAWABA — The United Arab Emirates and Israel on Sunday signed a customs agreement that finalized their Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, allowing it to go into effect on April 1.
The customs agreement that took months to conclude was signed by U.A.E. Ambassador Mohamed al-Khaja and Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in Jerusalem.
The U.A.E. and Israel signed a normalization agreement in 2020 as part of the United States-backed Abraham Accords.
The UAE-Israel CEPA was signed in Dubai in May 2022 but could not go into force until the two countries signed the customs agreement Sunday that will exempt a number of products immediately, while others will gradually be granted an exemption.
The signing opened “a new chapter in the history of the Middle East,” U.A.E. Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani Al Zeyoudi tweeted on May 31, 2002. “Our agreement will accelerate growth, create jobs and lead to a new era of peace, stability, and prosperity across the region.”
Some 96 percent of products traded between the countries, including food, agriculture, cosmetics, medical equipment, and medication, will be exempt from customs duty, according to the deal.
The agreement covers regulation, customs, services, government procurement, e-commerce, and the protection of intellectual property rights.
Hailing the agreement as historic, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it would reduce customs duties, lower the cost-of-living and inject energy into business between the U.A.E. and Israel.
Trade between the two countries last year registered more than $2.5 billion, targeting increasing annual bilateral trade to more than $10 billion over the next five years, the trade agreement is the largest ever between an Arab country and Israel.