Israel Seeks Commercial Mission to Lift U.A.E. Trade to $500 Million

Israel aims to open a commercial mission in its eventual embassy in the United Arab Emirates to help lift its exports to the country to as much as $500 million after their landmark agreement to normalize ties.

“We need to meet them, we need to talk to them and see what they think,” Ohad Cohen, head of Israel’s Foreign Trade Administration within the Ministry of Economy, said in an interview. The goal will be to have many bilateral frameworks with the UAE, he said.

The Economy Ministry is targeting commerce of $300 million to $500 million, and a similar level of trade and investment coming into Israel, according to an Israeli official, who requested anonymity because the estimates aren’t public. That would place the UAE on par with countries like Poland and Vietnam among Israel’s trade partners.

At the moment, Israel exports goods worth just $300,000 a year to the UAE, a figure that probably underestimates the true value of the deals.

Israel’s economy ministry wants to “explore the different ways to enhance the economic and commercial relations with the UAE for the benefit of both business communities,” Cohen said.

Israel and the UAE disclosed on Thursday that they had decided to put aside decades of official animosity in favor of normalizing ties that had existed unofficially for years. Distrust of Iran and its regional and nuclear ambitions played a major role, and Israeli and American officials have said they expect other Arab nations to follow the UAE’s suit.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu touted the benefits of trade between the two sides on Monday, saying that access to free trade zones in Dubai would benefit Israeli consumers. “The cost of living will be lower and the quality of life will be higher, because it will be possible to import more inexpensive products,” he said.

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