Israel and South Korea announced on Tuesday that they have begun negotiating a free trade agreement.
Israeli Economy Ministry Director-General Amit Lang and South Korean Deputy Trade Minister Tae Hee Woo announced their intention to begin talks next month in Seoul. The negotiations will focus on increasing commercial ties between the two countries in fields such as agriculture, technology, and industrial research and development.
“A free trade agreement between Israel and South Korea will be a significant milestone in trade relations between the two countries and carry significant economic potential for them, as well as economic relations between Israel and Asian countries in general,” Lang said in a statement.
Trade between the two nations totaled $2.2 billion in 2014, the Korea Times reported.
Korean Ambassador Lee Gun-Tae said when presenting his credentials to Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in December 2014 that South Korea was likely the only country in the world that could understand Israel’s complicated global situation.
Israel began free trade talks with China and Vietnam earlier this year, and signed a major research and development deal with Japan two years ago. Asian countries have become major trading partners with Israel, with the continent competing with the United States to be Israel’s second biggest trading area after Europe.