WASHINGTON (Apr. 22)
Israel and the United States signed into effect today an agreement — unprecedented in the history of U.S. trade policy–that will remove all trade barriers on goods and services exchanged between the two countries.
In a signing ceremony at the House Ways and Means Committee, Israel’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Ariel Sharon, and special U.S. Trade Representative William Brock, stressed that the agreement would benefit the economies of both the U.S. and Israel and serve as a precedent for future similar agreements with other countries.
A statement read by Brock from President Reagan called the agreement a “milestone in our efforts to liberalize trade.”
The U.S.-Israel Trade Area agreement, concluded last month, will eliminate tariffs and other trade barriers in phases over a 10-year period. Congress authorized the President to conclude the agreement last year and to submit it for “fast track” consideration and approval by the House and Senate.
“There will be some debate, but most of that’s behind us now. We’ve done the hard part,” Rep. Sam Gibbons (D. Fla.), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee’s subcommittee on international trade, who spoke at today’s ceremony, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Having rushed to the ceremony from a luncheon address to the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Arlington, Va., Brock said the agreement is “testimony to the political will on both sides.”
Sharon, speaking for the Israeli government, said “I believe that the agreement we have signed today will strengthen the relations—those deep, strong, traditional relations–between the greatest democracy in the world, the U.S. and the only one that exists in the Middle East, in the region, Israel.”