Courtesy of JNS. Photo credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO
Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien and Israeli Economy Minister Nir Barkat hold copies of a signed free trade agreement at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang applaud, July 25, 2023

(JNS) — Economy Minister Nir Barkat and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Hong Dien signed a free trade deal on Tuesday, Israel’s second with an East Asian country after the Republic of Korea.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Vietnamese Deputy Premier Tran Luu Quang attended the ceremony in Jerusalem.

The agreement is “expected to lead to the reduction of reciprocal customs duties on both imported and exported products, alongside an improvement and easing in trade in a range of additional areas,” according to an Israeli statement.

It will also provide a “competitive advantage and ease activity for Israeli exporters in the developing and growing Vietnamese market, thereby strengthening Israeli exports and increasing growth in the economy.”

“We’ve had excellent relations over the past few decades, but this is an important turning point,” said Netanyahu. “We are formally signing an agreement that will expand our trade, which is robust, to be even more robust. I look forward to increasing our ties with innovation, with all the areas that can better the lives of both our peoples.

“Vietnam is a vibrant, growing economy. Israel is a vibrant, growing economy. And our cooperation I think creates new horizons that will make us more successful together in the future,” he added.

Following the signing, Netanyahu and Quang held a meeting marking 30 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

They discussed the strengthening of bilateral cooperation in innovation, agriculture and tourism, and evaluated the possibility of direct flights between Israel and Vietnam.

Among the main goods traded between the countries are chemicals, chemical industry products, electronic equipment, optical and medical equipment, electrical and mechanical machinery and equipment, fresh agricultural produce and food products.

Israel imports many consumer products from Vietnam such as clothing, footwear, coffee and cellphones. In recent years, electric vehicles manufactured in Vietnam have begun to be sold in Israel.

“The agreement will give Israeli industry a competitive advantage, facilitate the activity of companies and exporters in the Vietnamese market and help reduce the cost of living in Israel, among other things by lowering the costs of imports from Vietnam,” said Barkat.

A free trade agreement between Israel and South Korea went into effect in December 2022.