JERUSALEM - A free trade agreement between Israel and South Korea will go into effect on Dec. 1, Israel's Economy Ministry said on Wednesday, in a move expected to lower the prices of Korean-made cars, toys, video game consoles and soy sauce.

The agreement was ratified by Korea's parliament on Tuesday.

The ministry estimated that it would also improve the competitiveness of Israeli exporters, since South Korea has 18 other free trade deals, and benefit Israel's economy by about 500 million shekels ($141 million) a year.

It expects to boost and diversify Israeli exports to South Korea, as well as encourage South Korean investments in the Israeli market.

The free trade deal, signed in May 2021, is Israel's first with an Asian country and tariff reductions will apply to imports, exports as well as to investments, the ministry said. More than 95% of Israeli exports to South Korea will be duty free.

Israel recently forged a free trade agreement with the United Arab Emirates and is negotiating similar deals with China, Vietnam, Bahrain and the United Kingdom.

Bilateral trade between Israel and South Korea rose 35% in 2021 to some $3.5 billion.

(Reporting by Steven Scheer, Editing by William Maclean)