Israel to sign trade pacts with Germany

Acting Finance Minister Ehud Olmert to sign an economic co-operation agreement with Germany this week.

Acting Finance Minister Ehud Olmert and his German counterpart Wolfgang Clement are due to sign an economic co-operation agreement designed to boost trade and increase Israel's exports to Europe's largest economy. Olmert was meeting Clement as part of a two-day visit to Germany, which started Wednesday and which he is making to mark forty years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor said. Olmert will take part in "Israel Business Day," organized in partnership with the local chamber of commerce, the Israeli embassy and Israel's trade attach in Berlin, Stel Pinhasov Beck. The latter is also arranging seminars about venture capital and life sciences, with the aim of encouraging co-operation between Israeli and German companies in these fields. In addition, Olmert will sign an agreement with Southern Saxony focusing on industry, biotechnology and information technology. He is being accompanied on the trip by Ronit Kan, the manager of foreign trade at the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry and Shraga Brosh, the president of the Israel Manufacturers Association. Brosh was due to sign an agreement on Wednesday with the Co-ordination Office of German Economic Organizations to set up an Israel-Germany Trade Council, the IMA said. The pact obligates the two sides to support trade and co-operation with each other, particularly in the transfer of technology, research and development, investment and manpower. They are also obligated to work to improve the regulatory framework and remove any obstacles. In 2004, trade between Germany and Israel was $4.2b., with imports from Germany accounting for $2.8b. and Israeli exports accounting for $1.3b., led by machinery, optical devices and industrial products. Germany's trade with Israel constitutes 25% of its trade with the Middle East and, in the last year, 150 Israeli companies started to operate in Germany, bringing the total to 2,200.