Israel and Bahrain hope to seal free trade deal by end of year

Israel and several Arab states are expanding trade following a normalisation of relations

From left to right: Director of Policy Planning Department at the UAE Foreign Ministry Abdulrahman Ali Alneyadi, US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Yael Lempert, Director General at Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Alon Ushpiz, Undersecretary for International Affairs at the Bahrain Foreign Ministry Sheikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Director General of Political Affairs at Morocco's foreign ministry ambassador Fouad Yazourh, and Deputy-Assistant Foreign Minister for Egypt Minister’s Office Affairs Mohamed Tharwat at a joint press conference for the Negev Forum in Manama, in June. AFP
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Israel and Bahrain are aiming to sign a free trade agreement before the end of the year, officials from both countries said on Monday.

Israel normalised diplomatic relations with Bahrain and its Gulf neighbour the UAE two years ago and has since expanded relations with Morocco, in addition to continuing relations with Jordan and Egypt. While economic ties with the UAE have since taken off, Israel's trade with Bahrain has yet to pick up.

“We're optimistic and hopeful that we will close the deal by the end of the year,” Bahrain's Minister of Industry and Commerce Zayed Alzayani said during a visit to a leading Israeli venture capital firm Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP).

Mr Alzayani, who discussed future co-operation with JVP founder Erel Margalit, said another round of free trade talks was expected in mid-November.

Israel's Economy Ministry told Reuters it would send a delegation to Manama for the next round “in order to conclude the negotiations as soon as possible, and hopefully no later than the end of the year.”

In May, Israel forged a free trade deal with the UAE, its first with an Arab country, that officials estimate will increase trade from $1.2 billion to $10 billion over the next five years.

Updated: October 31, 2022, 5:51 PM