GENEVA (Jul. 19)
Israel has concluded a free-trade pact with the six nations of the European Free Trade Association.
Under the agreement, to be signed by ministers later this year, all duties and barriers to trade among the signatory countries will be abolished.
The pact, which must still be ratified by Israel and the EFTA countries, is expected to be implemented on Jan. 1, 1993, the same date that the 12-nation European Community is scheduled to complete its economic integration.
EFTA unites in one free-trade area the markets of its members, which are Austria, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
It was particularly important for the EFTA countries that the agreement be rapidly implemented in order to avoid the negative effects on trade of a new program of tariffs that had been introduced by Israel in September 1991.
The initiative to start negotiations on a free-trade agreement with Israel was taken by EFTA ministers in March 1991. The goal was to provide EFTA countries with the same trading conditions with Israel as those enjoyed by the European Community and U.S. exporters.
Trade volume (imports plus exports) between EFTA countries and Israel totalled almost $1.7 billion in 1991.
Israel’s new foreign minister, Shimon Peres, will be in Geneva on Sept. 17 to sign the pact.