Free Trade Agreement between Israel and Brazil Approved

 Port2port News Service  
The decision to ratify the FTA at this time was made in honor of the state visit of President Peres to the South American country
The high-profile government and business delegation to Brazil, led by President Shimon Peres, concluded last week its visit Brazil with the ratification of a region-wide free trade agreement with Israel.
On Thursday, Brazil's lower legislative body, the Chamber of Deputies, ratified a free trade agreement (FTA) originally signed by Israel and the Southern Common Market, known as Mercosur in 2007. A statement released by Peres's office said that Brazil's decision was "dramatic and momentous with regard to its economic potential."
Mercosur includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. It was founded in 1991 to promote free trade and the fluid movement of goods, people and currency among South American states.
Venezuela, Colombia, Chile and Ecuador are currently in the process of integration into the regional common market. The FTA with Israel was the first of its kind signed by Mercosur states with a third party.
Once fully implemented, the Israel-Mercosur FTA, already ratified by Uruguay and Paraguay, will have tremendous economic impact. Currently, Mercosur is seen to represent approximately 270 million people and a combined GDP of three trillion U.S. dollars. The FTA will gradually, over a period of 10 years, eliminate tariffs on 90% of the trade between Israel and Mercosur states, which totaled about two billion U.S. dollars in 2008.
The ratification has one more stage, at the Senate level of the Brazilian National Congress.
Argentina has yet to ratify theFTA with Israel, making it the only remaining member of Mercosur not to have done so.
Israeli President Shimon Peres heads a delegation that included Israel's communication and tourism ministers, 40 Israeli business leaders and senior members of the Israeli defense industry.
According to Peres' office, thevisit comes at the invitation of Brazilian President Luis Inacio da Silva and Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
The visit marks the first state visit by an Israeli president to Brazil in 40 years and to Argentina in 20 years.
Israel exported US$499 million in goods to Brazil in the first nine months of 2009, a 52% drop from the same period last year. Exports to Argentina were US$52 million for the same period.