Israel and European Union sign agricultural agreement
Access to the markets of both sides has been greatly improved under the new agreement.
On Wednesday, November 4, 2009, a new agricultural agreement was signed in Brussels between Israel and the European Union. The new agreement, which updates the original agricultural agreement signed in the 1970’s, is the result of lengthy negotiations led by Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. Since the original signing, the agreement has been updated several times in order to reflect the significant changes in the needs of both parties.
Access to the markets of both sides has been greatly improved under the new agreement. In the processed agricultural products sector, over 95% of the products will be exempt from all taxes or levies. Considerable liberalization was undertaken in regards to all areas of fresh produce and approximately 80% will be exempt from all customs restrictions.
Israel’s Ambassador to the European Union, Ran Curiel, signed the agreement for Israel, while Christian Danielsson, Ambassador of Sweden, the current president of the EU, signed in the name of the Europeans.
The agricultural agreement constitutes one element in the wide range of existing agreements between Israel and the EU, which include the Israel-EU Association Agreement, the Israeli-EU Action Plan as part of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), the Euro-Mediterranean partnership, as well as Israel’s participation in a score of European programs and agencies, such as the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.
Approximately one billion USD of Israeli agricultural and processed food products are exported to the EU each year. Europe is Israel’s most important trading partner in the agricultural field, with more than 25% of Israel’s agricultural product and more than 75% of its total fresh agricultural products exported to Europe. The Ministry of Agriculture predicts that the new agreement will serve to expand agricultural exports, an important development given that more than 60% of exports to Europe come from the Arava and Negev regions.
Israel uses the world’s leading technologies in the intensive production of fruits, vegetables and flowers. Most of Israel’s agricultural activities are conducted in periphery and desert areas. Both Israel and the EU view the existence of active and modern rural areas as essential as they are used to preserve open spaces and prevent rapid urbanization processes.