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Common Market, Israel to Open Preferential Trade Agreement Talks in a Few Weeks

Negotiations between Israel and the European Economic Community (Common Market) on a preferential trade agreement are expected to begin in a few weeks. The EEC’s Council of Ministers last Friday authorized its Executive Commission to enter in to the talks. (In Jerusalem, Foreign Minister Abba Eban and Finance Minister Zeev Sharef hailed the decision “as a great step forward” in Israel’s pursuit of an association with the EEC).

The proposed five-year preferential agreement would enable France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium. The Netherlands and Luxembourg to lower customs duties on certain Israeli industrial goods by 45 percent and to cut duties on certain agricultural items like oranges, grapefruits, avocados and mangos by 40 percent.

The decision followed France’s waiving of its veto which it had used against Israel’s applications for the last two years. The Council of Ministers also decided to open exploratory talks with Egypt and Lebanon.