Sep. 21, 2005
Olmert: Free trade pact with S. America close
By SHARON WROBEL
Israel is close to signing the free trade agreement with the Mercado Comun del Sur (Mercosur) countries in South America, acting Finance Minister Ehud Olmert indicated yesterday.
"The basis for boosting economic growth and foreign investment in Israel now lies in the broadening of the country’s horizons by expanding free-trade agreements and generating imports from countries which have no formal ties with Israel," he told the annual general assembly of the Israel Chambers of Commerce in Tel Aviv. "After NAFTA and the EU, we are close to finalizing a free trade agreement with South America."
The agreement will expand export opportunities to South America and improve Israel’s competitive position vis-a’-vis Europe and the US. The Mercosur bloc coprises Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. Israel already has a free trade agreement with Mexico.
The Mercosur bloc is the third largest trading bloc after the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the European Union (EU). Customs duties in the Mercosur bloc average a relatively high 11 percent, and are even higher on some Israeli exports. Trade between Israel and the bloc totaled $940 million last year.