I and friends of Israel everywhere take great pleasure in congratulating Ambassador Brock and Minister of Industry and Trade Sharon on the U.S.-Israeli Free Trade Area Agreement. The signing of this historic agreement caps nearly 1 1/2 years of intensive and highly productive discussions. These talks have deepened our understanding of each other's economies and trading systems. And this agreement adds a new dimension to the special relationship between our countries.
The Free Trade Area Agreement is the first such agreement entered into by the United States. It fully meets the international rules regarding free trade areas contained in the GATT. When fully implemented in January 1995, the agreement will eliminate restrictions on all trade between the United States and Israel—trade which in 1984 amounted to $3.6 billion. The agreement also contains unprecedented recognition of the increasing importance of trade in services and investment, which will serve to further liberalize our bilateral economic relations.
This agreement opens up new prospects for the United States and Israel. Both our countries will derive substantial benefits through the unrestricted access it provides to each other's markets. More broadly, however, the agreement is an important milestone in our efforts to liberalize trade. We hope that it also will serve to encourage greater liberalization of the multilateral trading system and that it will help us move ahead in our continued attempts to expand world trade. I want to thank the chief negotiators, Danny Halperin from Israel and Doral Cooper from the United States, and their respective teams for a job well done.
The United States has a basic commitment to Israel's economic well-being, and we have pledged to continue to help Israel fulfill its great potential. In my discussions with Prime Minister Peres last fall, we explored ways to address Israel's pressing economic problems. We agreed that the Free Trade Area will be instrumental in helping Israel put its economy back on a foundation of vigorous, self-sustaining growth. I am confident that as this agreement is implemented, the U.S.-Israel Free Trade Area will prove to be one of the cornerstones of Israel's future economic development program.
The Free Trade Area Agreement symbolizes once again our two countries' deep community of interest and our shared values and aspirations for a better future. It underscores the importance of Israel to the United States as an ally, as a trading partner, and as a friend, and it underscores the U.S commitment to Israel's security and prosperity.
Sources: Public Papers of the President