Israel, Bahrain start free trade agreement talks

i24NEWS - Reuters

3 min read
Israel's Economy Minister Orna Barbivai (R) and Bahraini Industry and Trade Minister Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani in initial negotiations of a free trade agreement, in Manama, Bahrain, on September 19, 2022.
Israeli Economy MinistryIsrael's Economy Minister Orna Barbivai (R) and Bahraini Industry and Trade Minister Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani in initial negotiations of a free trade agreement, in Manama, Bahrain, on September 19, 2022.

Israel-Bahrain trade in 2021 totaled just $7.5 million, while Israel-UAE trade could reach $10 billion by 2027

Israel and Bahrain began negotiating a free trade agreement, Israel's Economy Ministry said Tuesday.

The Jewish state normalized diplomatic relations with the Gulf Arab state and its neighbor the United Arab Emirates two years ago under the US-brokered Abraham Accords, which hit its two-year anniversary last week.

While economic ties with the UAE took off, Israel's trade with Bahrain lagged far behind.

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 in five years.

Israel-Bahrain trade in 2021 totaled just $7.5 million.

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Apart from trade, Israeli and Bahraini institutions in April of this year signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote coexistence between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East. 

In July, Israel's Prime Minister Yair Lapid spoke with Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Emir Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, and last week Israeli President Isaac Herzog said he would soon visit Bahrain.

Israel’s Ambassador to Bahrain, Eitan Na’eh, told i24NEWS last week about the major achievements in bilateral relations since the Abraham Accords were signed, but stressed that he would like to see more tourists from both countries visiting each other.

Israeli Economy Minister Orna Barbivai met her Bahraini counterpart Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani in Manama on Monday to kick off the negotiations, Barbivai's office said.

"A free trade agreement with Bahrain as part of strengthening broader regional cooperation will strengthen economic relations between the countries, increase the scope of investments, remove trade barriers, and create opportunities for entrepreneurs and companies in Israel and Bahrain."

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