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Israel, Korea hope to start negotiations on free trade pact

Korea Herald, Seoul

Israel, Korea hope to start negotiations on free trade pact

29 July 2012

By Robert Lee

Israel and Korea hope to begin formal free trade negotiations next year, according to Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister on Thursday.

Both countries have already concluded preparations for free trade agreement negotiations, which they are looking to begin next year, Danny Ayalon told reporters.

“I hope we will do it sometime during next year,” replied Ayalon when asked when Korea and Israel would begin negotiations.

Ayalon met Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Kim Sung-hwan during his visit to Korea and discussed the FTA.

According to Ayalon, the FTA would be Israel’s first with an Asian country, and he said it will allow Korean products to flourish in the Israeli market. The former ambassador to the U.S. added that Israel does not produce cars, refrigerators and television sets, all of which are a forte of Korean exports.

“A free trade agreement between Israel and Korea, I believe, will help us bring bilateral trade to double in a very, very short time,” he said adding that bilateral trade could reach $10 billion in 5-10 years with an FTA.

Bilateral trade between Korea and Israel amounted to over $2.5 billion, according to data by the Korea International Trade Association.

It was reported that Ayalon and Kim discussed other bilateral issues including defense cooperation.

According to Ayalon, Israel currently has FTAs with the U.S., EU, Canada, Mexico and the Mercosur, a trade bloc composed of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.