Bahrain Mirror: Bahrain's Minister of Industry and Commerce Zayed bin Rashid Al-Zayani led a 50 member delegation to Israel on Sunday. The mission's objective was to further negotiations towards a free trade agreement between the two countries, the Israeli i24NEWS website reported.
Minister Al-Zayani said in a special interview with the website that he expects the deal to be signed by the end of this year. "We're optimistic and hopeful that we will close the deal by the end of the year," Bahraini Minister of Industry and Commerce Al-Zayani said during a visit to a leading Israeli venture capital firm, Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP).
Al-Zayani, who discussed future cooperation 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."
When asked about concerns that Israel was on the verge of electing a hard right government, Minister Al-Zayani said "Bahrain and Israel had come a long way since the signing of the Abraham Accords" and that it would be "very unfortunate if someone was to come in and reverse the cycle."
He ventured that the rest of the Arab world was watching to see how the Abraham Accords signatories were progressing because "the aim is not to stop at three countries."
When pressed on the inflammatory statements made by Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir, Minister Al-Zayani said "We'd rather not hear such statements but we have to see this as a long term project and look at the bigger picture."
Two memoranda of understanding were signed in the fields of trade and fintech. This follows a similar cooperation agreement last week in agriculture.
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. Israel-Bahrain trade in 2021 totaled just $7.5 million.