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    Israel Hopes to Start Free Trade Zone Talks With EEU Before End of 2016

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    Israel hopes to start talks on the establishment of a free trade zone with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) before the end of the current year and plans to reach the agreement in several years, Zeev Elkin, the Israeli Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage minister, said Monday.

    TEL AVIV (Sputnik) — The EEU, encompassing Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, was launched in 2015. It is an international organization that encourages regional economic integration through the free movement of goods, services, and people within the union. Over 40 countries and international organizations, including Indonesia, India, China, Thailand, Cambodia and Israel, have expressed desire to create a trade zone with the EEU.

    "The first formal round of talks is currently due to be held. The place and the date are under discussion. I hope it will take place this year. Usually, such talks cannot be limited by a single round but require two or three years of discussions," Elkin, who also co-chairs the Israeli-Russia intergovernmental commission, told RIA Novosti.

    The decision to launch negotiations with Israel was reached at an EEU summit of Russian, Armenian, Belarusian, Kazakh and Kyrgyz leaders in October 2015.

    "Russia, of course, triggers this process, though, we should obviously take into account the interests of other EEU members. It makes the process more complicated from the bureaucratic point of view, though, nevertheless, I hope that we will sign the agreement in several years," Elkin added.


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