The European Union will now recognize the Health Ministry's Good Manufacturing Practices, thus exempting Israeli drug manufacturers and exporters from having to conduct additional tests on their products in Europe, the ministry announced on Sunday. GMP is the general term used to describe the manufacturing supervision and quality control testing of foods, pharmaceuticals and other products. The move was the result of a joint initiative of the Health and Industry, Trade and Labor Ministries. Due to take effect in the first half of 2010, the exemption will promote the development and sale of Israeli intellectual property in the pharmaceutical field. Initially, it will only cover pharmaceutical products in development, but will later encompass other industrial sectors. Israel will be the first country to sign such an agreement without being a candidate for joining the EU. According to Etti Balhassan-Levi, head of the bilateral commerce agreements in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, having such approval will reduce costs and make it possible for small- and medium-sized companies that were unable to afford additional testing abroad to export their products to Europe. Dr. Mimi Kaplan, director of the Health Ministry's Control and Standards Institute, added that the agreement was a "significant achievement that boosts the ministry's ability to efficiently and transparently supervise the quality of drugs sold in Israel and cut the costs of drug exports and imports for the Israeli industry."