Amir Hayek
I am telling my Israeli friends that the UAE can be an important growth engine for the Israeli economy and industry, the ambassador said. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: The UAE will be among Israel’s top 10 trading partners in the next two-three years, a top diplomat said on Wednesday.

Bilateral trade between the two countries jumped 117 per cent in the first half of 2022 compared to the same period last year, Amir Hayek, the Israeli Ambassador to the UAE, said, adding that the UAE can be an important growth engine for Israeli industries because of the innovation infrastructure, and essential ingredients for business the country offers.

Bilateral trade stood at $560 million (Dh2.06 billion) during the first six months of 2021, rising to $1.214 billion (Dh4.46 billion) during the first half of 2022, he said at the Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi on the occasion of the second anniversary of the Abraham Accords signed in September 2020.

“So, it is a huge number. It puts the UAE in the 19th rank among the countries that Israel is doing business with. By the end of this year, the UAE’s rank will be between 15 or 16, and I believe that in the next 2-3 years we will see the UAE in the top 10 countries that Israel is trading with,” the diplomat said.

According to the UAE Ministry of Economy, from September 2020 to March 2022, the UAE-Israel non-oil trade surpassed $2.5 billion, while it reached $1.06 billion in the first three months of 2022.

Five key factors

“I am telling my Israeli friends that the UAE can be an important growth engine for the Israeli economy and industry. We have five reasons for that,” Hayek pointed out.

“The first one is the UAE has an innovation infrastructure that can fit our innovation infrastructure, and together, one plus one can be eleven. Second, they can find here capital of any kind. If they are looking for partners...this is the place to find them. If you have a good company, you can find the right partner and right investment here,” he said.

Third, businesses can find here people of any kind, from carpenters to machine engineers and software engineers, the envoy pointed out. “And if you cannot find them here, it is easy to bring them here.”

The fourth reason is availably of raw material. The fifth factor is access to new markets.

CEPA with UAE, Israel’s fastest negotiation

The ambassador said the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) signed with the UAE on May 31, 2022, after six-month long negotiations, which was the “fastest negotiations Israel did” for any similar free trade agreement with other countries. “Because we had great partners in the Emirati side.”

The CEPA will come into force in the next few months. “But you know, economy is a matter of expectations. So, when businesspeople see and hear about the CEPA, they would like to cooperate because they see and understand that there is a solid ground of agreements that can back up their efforts in economic cooperation,” he pointed out.

The UAE-Israel CEPA is expected to advance bilateral trade beyond $10 billion within five years and add $1.9 billion to the UAE’s GDP within the same period.