UAE-Israel trade hits $2.5 billion since Abraham Accords; CEPA to be inked soon: Minister

Healthcare sector one of the biggest beneficiaries of the deal


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Thu 26 May 2022, 5:34 PM

After the signing of the Abraham Accords, bilateral trade between the UAE and Israel has increased to more than $2.5 billion in less than two years, a minister said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

In September 2020, the UAE and Israel signed the Abraham Accords – a historic normalisation agreement that is transforming the Middle East.

Highlighting that bilateral trade exceeded $2.5 billion since the Accords was inked, Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said: “In the first quarter of this year, we exceeded $1 billion dollars. We announced two years ago, $3 billion of R&D funds for more engagement in the region.”

In April, both the countries concluded talks on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). During the panel discussion, Dr Thani underlined that the milestone agreement would be signed soon.

“We are about to sign the free trade agreements, sending a strong message that the potential is high and concrete projects are happening,” he said while adding that the UAE is keen to engage with and capitalise on Israel’s strong healthcare sector.

Knowledge exchange during pandemic

Speaking during the panel: ‘Abraham Accords: An Unexplored Vehicle for Health Innovation’ organised by the VPS Healthcare at Burjeel House in Davos, Dr Thani noted that the knowledge exchange between the two countries during the pandemic was an excellent example of bilateral cooperation.

“There was a medical exchange between both the countries during the pandemic and work was done on research on the virus, the vaccine, etc. It expedited many things and we saw some of the concrete outcomes impacting the control of the Covid-19 within the UAE,” the minister said.

Praising the bilateral cooperation in different areas, Itamar Rabinovich, former Ambassador of Israel to the US and former President of Tel Aviv University said that tangible action should be taken to keep up the momentum.

“The UAE participated in a very important project where we are producing both water and electricity in Jordan. The UAE plays a crucial role in this project. The relationship has begun well and is proceeding well. But it is not going to develop well if unattended. The leadership of both countries need to mend, monitor, and develop it further,” he added.

Focus on research collaborations

The panel felt that the Accords presented a huge opportunity for increased medical technological advancement through collaboration between healthcare actors in the region.

Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, chairman and managing director, VPS Healthcare, said that the healthcare sector is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Abraham Accords.

“Health is one of the biggest bridges that can bind nations and people. We have seen a lot of bilateral movements between Israeli research companies and research organisations. The next big disruption can come through some of these research collaborations. The opportunities are getting bigger because of the capital pool in Abu Dhabi and the research talent from Israel. As a healthcare company, we are very excited to be a part of this time in the relationship,” he said.

Dr Shamsheer pointed out the Abraham Accords can culminate in the next Nobel Prize coming from the region with a close relationship between two great nations. “I am very optimistic,” he added.

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