UAE-Israel Cepa to take effect on April 1

Tariffs will be removed or reduced on more than 96 per cent of product lines, covering 99 per cent of the current value of traded goods

Abdulla bin Touq, UAE Minister of Economy, centre, and Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, third from right, with Orna Barbivai, Israel's former Economy Minister, third from left, and the negotiating teams from each country. Photo: Ministry of Economy
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The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement signed between the UAE and Israel in May last year will take effect on April 1, the countries have confirmed.

Tariffs will be removed or reduced on more than 96 per cent of product lines, which covers 99 per cent of the current value of traded goods between the UAE and Israel, the UAE's Ministry of Economy said in a statement on Thursday.

The announcement comes after the UAE and Israel signed a customs agreement earlier this week to put the Cepa deal into effect.

The UAE-Israel Cepa is the second new foreign-trade deal to be ratified following the roll-out of the UAE-India Cepa in May 2022, the ministry said.

The deal is aimed at boosting UAE-Israel non-oil bilateral trade to $10 billion by the end of the decade from $1.3 billion in 2021.

In 2022, bilateral non-oil trade reached $2.49 billion, a 90 per cent annual increase, with re-exports from Israel growing by 71.2 per cent and non-oil exports to the country rising 48.6 per cent.

In addition to the new tariff structures, the agreement with Israel “removes unnecessary barriers to trade, improves market access for services suppliers" and "opens opportunities in government procurement,” the ministry said.

The agreement also provides a platform for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to expand internationally.

It establishes “parameters for digital trade, protects intellectual property and creates transparent trade remedy mechanisms”, the ministry said.

The Cepa deal last year came after the UAE and Israel normalised relations in 2020, which led to dozens of initial pacts in sectors from aviation to technology.

Israel and the UAE began negotiations for a trade and economic co-operation deal in 2021, with talks concluding last year.

The Cepa deal “builds on the strong foundations laid by the Abraham Accords”, Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said when the deal was signed last year.

Full details of the new tariff structures, rules of origin eligibility, as well as information on market access conditions for services suppliers, is now available on the Ministry of Economy’s website.

Businesses, exporters or agencies can also connect with the ministry for specific queries on the terms of the deal, it said.

The UAE is working towards signing 26 comprehensive economic partnership agreements as it seeks to attract more investment and diversify its economy, UAE Minister of Economy Abdulla bin Touq said this month.

The UAE has signed deals with Indonesia and Turkey and is close to finalising new agreements with Cambodia and Kenya.

It started talks with Costa Rica this week and recently concluded negotiations for a new trade deal with Georgia.

Updated: March 30, 2023, 10:00 AM