(Feb. 2, 2008) Following negotiations that began in 2005, on December 18, 2007, in Montevideo, Uruguay, the member states of MERCOSUR, the trade bloc that comprises Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, signed a trade agreement with Israel, the first non-Latin American country to sign this type of agreement with the bloc. Besides Israel, MERCOSUR has concluded agreements with Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.
According to the Argentinean negotiator and undersecretary for Economic Integration and MERCOSUR, Eduardo Sigal, in four years 70 percent of all goods traded between the bloc and Israel will be free of import tax. Sigal added that in eight years the rate of tax-free trade will increase to 85 percent and in ten years, to 99 percent. The agreement is expected to enable a significant trade increase in general between the bloc and Israel. (Mercosul Assina Acordo de Livre Comércio com Israel, G1-GLOBO.COM, Dec. 18, 2007.)