WASHINGTON — The United States and Israel signed an agreement Monday to abolish all tariffs and most other trade barriers between the two nations by 1995, the first such U.S. agreement with any nation.
The document, the product of 13 months of intense negotiations, was signed by U.S. Trade Representative William E. Brock and Ariel Sharon, Israel's minister of industry and commerce. Israel's parliament, the Knesset, approved the agreement Monday, and U.S. congressional approval seems assured.
In a statement, President Reagan praised the agreement as "an important milestone in our efforts to liberalize trade," adding that the United States has "pledged to continue to help Israel achieve its great potential."
Tariffs are to be lifted immediately on 52.5% of U.S. exports to Israel and on 80% of Israeli exports to the United States, then gradually removed for most remaining goods until all are gone by the Jan. 1, 1995, deadline.
Certain goods designated as "sensitive" would be frozen at present tariff levels for five years but then would be subject to negotiation to free them by 1995. The United States has placed in that category agricultural products such as orange and grapefruit juices and gold jewelry, while Israel has listed refrigerators, aluminum bars and radio-navigational equipment.
Trade between the United States and Israel reached $3.6 billion last year, with the United States enjoying a surplus of $450 million.