Vietnam and Israel signed a free trade agreement on Tuesday, predicting it would quickly boost annual bilateral trade by nearly 50%, Reuters reports.
The agreement was signed in Israel between the two countries’ trade ministers after seven years of negotiations, Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade said in a statement.
The agreement is expected to soon bring bilateral trade to $3 billion, the Ministry said, after trade between the countries rose 18% last year to $2.2 billion.
The deal will facilitate Vietnam’s exports of its products, not only to Israel, but also pave the way for Vietnamese products to access other Middle East, North African and southern European markets.
It was the second free trade deal Israel has signed with a country in Asia, following South Korea in 2021, and the first with a member of the Association of South-east Asian Nations.
Israel’s Economy Ministry said it would give a competitive edge and facilitate activity for Israeli exporters in the Vietnamese market.
Vietnam’s largest exports to Israel include smart phones, footwear and seafood, while it imports electronics and fertilizers.
The agreement will ultimately remove duties on at least 86% of Vietnamese products and 93% of Israeli products, Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade said.
Vietnam has signed 16 bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements since the early 1990’s, as it seeks to attract more foreign investors to its manufacturing-driven economy.
Middle East Monitor / ABC Flash Point News 2023.