ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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Israel-UAE free trade deal takes force as customs agreement inked in Jerusalem

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

In this handout phot, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauds as Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and UAE Ambassador to Israel Mohamed al-Khaja exchange signed copies of the custom agreement between the countries, March 26, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
In this handout phot, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu applauds as Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and UAE Ambassador to Israel Mohamed al-Khaja exchange signed copies of the custom agreement between the countries, March 26, 2023. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

As the bilateral diplomatic relationship shows worrying signs, the final and most important component of the free trade agreement between Israel and the UAE — the customs agreement — is signed by Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and UAE Ambassador Mohamed al-Khaja in Jerusalem, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in attendance.

The Israel-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement was signed in Dubai last May, but did not take force until the two countries signed the customs agreement today.

The customs agreement took months to conclude because the sides had to carefully go through every product and decide what would be covered. According to the UAE, the agreement lowers or eliminates tariffs on more than 96 percent of tariff lines and 99% of the total value of trade between the two countries.

Israel’s tax and customs authorities were among the bodies participating the talks.

They were concluded several weeks ago, but the signing ceremony waited until Netanyahu, Cohen, and Khaja were all in the country at the same time.

It will go into effect on April 1.

Netanyahu says the agreement will “bring about a reduction in customs, will bring down the cost of living, and will give a shot in the arm to business between Israel and the UAE.”

“I am sure we will continue to expand the circle of peace with Israel along with other countries in the region,” he adds.

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