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Israel and Vietnam to Increase Diplomatic Ties—Sign Free-trade Agreement Soon

For almost 30 years, Israel and Vietnam have enjoyed close diplomatic ties. This year, as an “anniversary gift,” the two nations plan to sign a free-trade agreement, according to an announcement by Vietnam’s Industry and Trade Minister on Monday.

Nguyen Hong Dien, Vietnam’s Minister of Industry and Trade, met with Israel’s Minister of Economy and Industry, Nir Barkat, recently during a visit to the Holy Land.

The free-trade deal was not an overnight decision. Israel and Vietnam have gone through 12 rounds of negotiations to work out all the details during the last seven years.

Bilateral trade between the two nations last year rose to $2.2 billion. Vietnam imports mostly fertilizer and electronics from Israel. And the Jewish state receives smartphones, seafood, and footwear from the southeast Asian country.

Israel’s history with Vietnam goes back several decades. In 1977, then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin agreed to let in 360 Vietnamese people who were seeking refuge after Communists took over their country. Israel’s small Vietnamese population continues to this day in their adopted homeland—and the ties between the two countries have grown.

Vietnam has been looking to attract foreign investors in its manufacturing-based economy. In addition to the bilateral agreement with Israel, the nation has signed more than a dozen bilateral and multilateral agreements since the 1990s.

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