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South Korea and Israel Set To Enter Free Trade Deal

by Kenneth Chuacon / May 11, 2021 06:36 AM EDT
Israel Ambassador to S. Korea

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Economy Minister Amir Peretz are scheduled to travel to Seoul this week to sign a free trade agreement between Israel and South Korea.

South Korea is the first country in Asia to sign a free trade deal with Israel, and Israel is the first country in the Middle East to do so with South Korea.

South Korea is the world's 12th largest country and Israel's third-largest Asian trade partner. According to the Foreign Ministry, the free trade deal would greatly expand trade between Israel and South Korea, provide a comparative edge to Israeli industry, and lower the cost of Korean goods imported into Israel.

The two countries will also conclude an agreement to double the funding of the Korea-Israel Industrial R&D Foundation (KORIL-RDF), an Israeli-South Korean joint science and innovation fund.

The Manufacturers Association of Israel's director-general of foreign exchange and international affairs, Dan Catarivas, agrees and believes that the FTA between Israel and Korea would place special pressure on neighboring nations in Asia.

He told The Media Line, a news organization covering events in the Middle East, that this would be a strong indication for other Asian countries to go forward with negotiating a free trade agreement with the country. It would have a positive impact in hastening an eventual free trade agreement between Israel and other Asian countries.

Since Israel has a limited market internally, trade and exports help boost their local economy. Southeast Asian markets are those with the greatest potential for increasing exports, according to the director-general. He added that the Israel-Korea Free Trade Agreement would help both Israeli producers and customers.

According to the Israeli economic ministry, more than 95 percent of Israeli shipments to South Korea would be duty-free. Israel is also negotiating similar agreements with other countries like China, Vietnam, and India.

A few weeks ago, Israel dropped mandates on wearing face masks outdoors as a result of having the majority of its population vaccinated against COVID-19. 

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