South Korea, Israel Reach Trade Agreement, Excluding Settlements

Wednesday, 17 July, 2019 - 10:45
Tel Aviv – Asharq Al-Awsat

Israeli and South Korean governments decided to resume negotiations between the two countries to acquire the Israeli Iron Dome system and expand the scope of trade exchange. The agreement, however, will exclude Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Height.

The talks were agreed upon during the meeting between Israel's President Reuven Rivlin’s and South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Presidential residence in Seoul.

The two presidents signed memorandums of understandings in the fields of energy and education and discussed means to increase the cooperation between the countries in other fields as well.

Officials representing both countries such as senior industry and trade leaders held a meeting, after which, a trade MoU was signed and later officials discussed the purchase of the Iron Dome system.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is readying to ink a deal with South Korea on free trade when he visits Seoul by the end of the month. He is also expected to travel to Japan during his trip.

The PM’s office announced the deal will bring in billions of dollars to Israel both in exports to South Korea and in cheaper imports that are expected to lower prices for consumers in Israel.

The Iron Dome deal was discussed between the two countries in 2012 and 2013. It was decided at the time that Israel would purchase from South Korea speed boats and developed training warplanes, in exchange, Seoul would buy the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

But the Netanyahu government reached an agreement to buy developed planes from Italy, and a deal to buy speed boats from Germany, to which Seoul responded by canceling its plans to buy “Iron Dome” batteries.

Trade relations between the two countries were not affected by the cancellation of the deal, which amounted to $2 billion a year. South Korea controls 15 percent of Israel's car market and 20 percent of the mobile phone market.

According to sources in Tel Aviv, the atmosphere allows the agreement on large transactions, especially in the military field.

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