Israel, South Korea forge free trade deal
(Adds comments from Israeli PM, Korean Trade Minister)
By Steven Scheer
JERUSALEM, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Israel and South Korea
concluded three years of negotiations on a free trade agreement
on Wednesday, hoping to build on a more than 15% jump in
bilateral trade last year to $2.5 billion.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the
agreement, Israel's first with an Asian country, and praised
South Korea as a "global leader, a vibrant, advanced economy".
"Our partnership will do tremendous good for both our
economies," he said during a meeting with South Korean Trade
Minister Yoo Myung-hee.
"I'm sure it will multiply our trade...I think that this
will also offer for Israeli consumers decreased prices, removal
of customs, for example from Korean cars."
Under the deal, more than 95% of Israeli exports will be
exempt from customs duties while importers and consumers will
save some 100 million shekels ($28 million) a year, the Economy
Nearly half of Israeli exports to South Korea are machinery,
electrical and medical equipment. They also include fertilisers,
cosmetics and juices.
Customs duties will be eliminated on imports from South
Korea, the world's 11th largest economy, including cars and auto
parts, toys, appliances and electronic components.
The Economy Ministry said South Korea currently has 15 free
trade agreements with various countries and trading blocs,
including the U.S., the EU, India and China. The free trade
agreement between Israel and South Korea, it said, will assist
in "equalizing Israel's trade terms" with those countries.
"Both countries, South Korea and Israel, we have a lot of
similarities and also we have complementary economic structure,"
Yoo said. "Based on this free trade agreement I'm sure that it
will further promote our trade and investment as well as further
promote our technology cooperation."
($1 = 3.5259 shekels)
(Reporting by Steven Scheer; editing by Gareth Jones)
First Published: 2019-08-21 13:44:39
Updated 2019-08-21 17:51:53
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