JERUSALEM (Jul. 17)
Israel’s team of negotiators for the new tariff agreement with the European Economic Community left yesterday for Brussels where the talks open tomorrow. Already in Brussels is Israel’s Ambassador to the Common Market, Moshe Allon, who will head the Israeli team. Negotiations are expected to continue sporadically for several months. The ultimate aim is to draft a new agreement before the end of the year.
Negotiations will also begin this week in Brussels with.the other four countries involved in the projected “Mediterranean global agreement” between the EEC and the Mediterranean countries. These are Spain, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. The overall aim is to achieve free trade industrial goods between these countries and the EEC nine, and low tariffs on agricultural commodities.
Israel will be pressing for as long an adjustment period as possible before she is required to reduce her tariff walls on industrial imports to zero. Last month the EEC Council of Ministers spoke in terms of zero tariffs before the end of this decade, but Israeli officials believe that this would be far too premature for Israel’s own industry which is used to heavy feather bedding Israel hopes for gradual tariff reductions not reaching the zero mark until 1985.
TO SEEK TARIFF REDUCTION
On the agricultural front, Israel will seek the same low tariffs for its citrus exports as those enjoyed by the three Maghreb countries (Morocco, Algeria. Tunisia) until now. In figures this means an 80 percent tariff reduction on the fruits and the fruit products the terms Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia have enjoyed to date.
israel would settle, all other things being equal, for a 60 percent reduction in tariffs on some citrus products but would take nothing less than that. Sixty percent was the tariff reduction Israel enjoyed from her main market, the United Kingdom, before the UK joined the EEC, and she feels, therefore that her exports should not be made to suffer because of Britain’s Joining.
Drawing nearer to Europe has, of course, important political as well as economic overtones. The Common Market members themselves, especially the Germans, any that the EEC is moving towards political union and with their growing economic power behind them, the Market countries would president a formidable political force if they achieve unity.
Israel is hoping that by drawing closer to the EEC economically it will be able to favorably influence the Market’s political policies particularly in the Middle East. Now that the Franch have apparently decided to desist from active anti Israel diplomatic activity there is hope in Jerusalem that the EEC can be held to a balanced line on the Mideast.