Forty-three years ago, Israel reached its first free trade agreement with the countries of the European Common Market. Since then, Israel has inked numerous additional agreements with countries across the planet. Powered in large part by these free trade deals, Israel’s exchange of goods and services has soared in recent decades. Since 1980, the combined value of Israel’s imports and exports has surged 934 percent. The European Union, the United States, and Asia are the top markets for Israel for both imports and exports.
2018 has already seen significant growth in additional trade deals as Israel’s economic ties continue to grow with countries across the planet, and as more and more nations seek to tap into Israeli innovation and entrepreneurialism. Just last week, Israel updated its existing trade agreement with Canada, with Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen and Canadian Foreign Trade Minister Francois Philippe Champagne signing a deal that reduces tariffs on an additional 2,000 products while adding provisions on eCommerce, labor, and environmental standards. In recent months, Israel successfully concluded negotiations over a free trade accord with Ukraine and finalized its accord with Panama. This flurry of free trade activity comes on top of ongoing talks with South Korea, Vietnam, India, China, and the Eurasian Customs Union, a group consisting of Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Armenia.
Approximately 70 percent of Israel’s exports are shipped to countries that have signed free trade deals with Israel. Free trade agreements in force include:
- European Union: 1975
- United States: 1985
- European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland): 1992
- Canada: 1997
- Turkey: 1997
- Mexico: 1999
- Mercosur: 2007
- Colombia: 2013
A member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Israel has established itself as an integral player in global trade with its prowess in technology and innovation – from transformative irrigation technologies to the country’s thriving ICT sector.
The movement toward greater free trade over the past five decades has conferred significant economic benefits on Israel: the opening of new markets, improved conditions for Israeli businesses operating abroad, increased exports, and increasingly robust platforms for resolving trade disputes and enhancing cooperation. Moreover, increased trade and economic ties also serve to foster improved diplomatic relations, underscoring the long-term strategic benefits for Israel’s economic growth.
With Israel set to expand its global trade footprint even more in the near term, countries around the world will continue reaping the benefits of better commercial ties and expanded access to the Israeli innovations that are transforming industry – from software to cybersecurity to artificial intelligence to connected vehicles to sophisticated water management and agricultural platforms, and beyond.