Israel Delegation Completes Economic Talks with 12 European Lands

An Israel delegation in Paris completed preliminary negotiations with 40 representatives of 12 European nations on multilateral trade agreements, it was reported here today.

When these agreements are approved by the governments of the countries concerned, Israel’s trade with those countries will not be restricted thereafter by individual import and export quotas or by clearing agreements. Instead, each year agreement will be reached on a total global sum of trade with all 12 and Israeli importers will be free to buy–within the limits of that total sum–from any of the 12 countries from a practically unlimited list of goods.

At the same time, Israel will be able to export goods to any of those countries under almost the same preferential conditions as are enjoyed by members of the Organization of European Economic Cooperation (OEEC). Israeli economic circles hope that the new multilateral agreements will ultimately open the way for Israel to come to a special arrangement with the European Common Market.

The various European economic unions are based on gradual lowering of customs and tariffs and the gradual elimination of various export and import restrictions. This has a profound importance for Israel. Though geographically not part of Europe, Israel’s trade is very much “Europe oriented”: Sixty percent of Israel’s exports go to Europe and 40 percent of her imports come from there.

Unless Israel succeeds in achieving special arrangements with the European countries involved, the gradual elimination of trade barriers among the European countries would give each of them such advantages on the European market that Israel’s own exports would cease to be competitive. A typical example cited is citrus fruit, one of. Israel’s most important items. Without special agreements, citrus fruit from Italy and countries of the French Union would be so much cheaper as to squeeze Israel fruits out of the market.

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