JERUSALEM (Aug. 7)
The United States and Israel today began their ninth round of talks on the establishment of a free trade zone with both parties expressing optimism that an agreement would be completed before September 19.
Durall Cooper, assistant to special U.S. trade representative William Brock, said in a radio interview that she tended to agree with the Israel assessment that 95 percent of the problems had already been solved. The major issues still to be discussed were subsidies for exports, the balance of payments, as well as the issue of the tariff reductions, Cooper said. “We will work here around the clock this week, until we have most of these issues finalized,” she said.
Dan Halpern, Israel’s economic envoy to the U.S., here for the talks, also expressed optimism, despite “some problems.” He said the prospects of increasing Israeli exports to the U.S., following the conclusion of the agreement, would depend on whether Israeli industries would be able to adjust to the new opportunities.
Gideon Patt, Minister of Industry and Trade, told the Cabinet last Sunday that he expected an agreement on a free trade zone to be concluded in September, and said that nearly all of the hurdles have been overcome except for “certain technicalities.”