Israel-Vietnam Free Trade Accord in Works

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israel and Vietnam are joining hands to develop bilateral economic ties, including the creation of an agriculture research and development fund and a free-trade accord, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Israeli Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir and Vietnamese government officials agreed to a joint R & D program, and made progress toward completing a free-trade accord, during meetings in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City over the past week.

The Vietnamese expressed a desire to complete negotiations on the free trade agreement by the end of 2014, Shamir’s spokesman said. Such an agreement, the two officials stressed, would upgrade the countries’ economic relations in the fields of agricultural technology, science and defense.

The talks represent a follow-through on a dramatic increase in bilateral trade in recent years. Israeli exports to Vietnam last year jumped by 120% to $747 million.

Vietnam’s economy showed impressive growth, at a rate of 5.15 percent in the first nine months of 2013.

Shamir made a five-day tour of Vietnam’s agricultural sector, attending business seminars and holding meetings with Vietnam’s highest officials, including President Truong Tan Sang, Prime Minister Nguen Tan Dung, National Assembly Vice Chairman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan and Agriculture Minister Cao Duc Phat.

In addition, Shamir visited a model farm in Ho Chi Minh City that was set up a few months ago with Israeli aid, which aims to demonstrate the capabilities of agricultural technology.

Joining the minister was an Israeli agricultural business delegation under the leadership of Israel Export Institute CEO Ofer Sachs.