Between a season of dreadful weather and an onslaught of ravenous feral pigs, Australia’s macadamia growers are left feeling a bit… nutty. However, a new Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with South Korea brings new potential to a tough nut industry.

ABC Rural reports that South Korea represents one of the two priority markets for Australia’s macadamia nuts – the other being Taiwan – but a 30 percent tariff has been a roadblock with which the industry often collides. The FTA will reduce the current 30 percent tariff to zero for Australian imports into South Korea.

"Now with this reduction in the tariff over the next five years, we're confident that the market will grow," states Jolyon Burnett, chief executive officer of The Australian Macadamia Society. "The USA achieved a reduction to zero in their tariff over seven years, two years ago," he said. "So the fact that our tariff will reduce to zero over five years brings us back into competitive alignment with US imports into Korea."

Australia’s market is expected to grow 100 percent over the length of the tariff reduction, if the country has the crops to sustain it. Gympie Times states that meeting demand will be the next problem in the market which has grown 240 percent in the past five years. With hostile weather alternating between dry spells and rot-inducing downpours, and feral pigs feasting on the fallen nuts, Australia’s success will not be easy.

For more on Australia’s FTA with South Korea, click here.

In what will be the “most ambitious hemispheric initiative in years,” the Obama administration is exploring a regional trade plan that would extend the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to include Latin America and surrounding nations.

The potential expansion falls on the 20th anniversary of NAFTA’s implementation which officials are calling a “golden opportunity” to re-launch the agreement while deepening the existing agreement between current members. The current members, the US, Mexico and Canada, plan on reaching out to the rest of Central America, the Caribbean, and Latin America according to US Secretary of State John Kerry.

According to the article in the Miami Herald, “Kerry stated that the United States, Mexico and Canada would be the major block of it, reaching out to the rest of Central America, the Caribbean, and Latin America, and would focus on North American countries primarily as several South American nations are not yet willing to forge closer commercial ties with the United States.”.

For more on the potential trade deal, view the Miami Herald story here.

Israel and Russia will begin negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) in 2014, which the countries hope will increase trade numbers, as well as relations, with one another.

[caption id="attachment_5520" align="alignright" width="300"]ITAR-TASS/Denis Vyshinsky ITAR-TASS/Denis Vyshinsky[/caption]

The decision to begin talks was made early in December of 2013, after the two countries recognized an exchange of only $2 billion worth of trade in the prior year. The Jerusalem Post states that the $2 billion of trade between the two countries is equally divided into import and export.

“Based on the analysis of benefits such a potential agreement can give us, we will complete this process in the foreseeable future and find a sound basis for the agreement,” states Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich.

According to ITAR-TASS, Netanyahu said that relations between the two countries had been “on the rise” in recent years and expressed hope that his talks in Moscow regarding the future FTA would contribute to the maintenance of peace and security in the region and the world.