SEOUL, May 12 (Yonhap) — South Korea and Israel vowed Wednesday to expand ties in research and development (R&D) projects to brace for the post-pandemic era and penetrate deeper into emerging segments, including robotics and biotechnology.

The announcement came after the two countries decided to fully revise their 20-year-old agreement on technology exchanges to reflect the latest industrial trends, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Under the revision, each country will disburse US$4 million annually for joint R&D projects, which doubles from the previous annual budget of $2 million.

The fund can also account for up to 70 percent of the budget needed for approved projects, which marks a sharp rise from the previous ceiling of 50 percent.

South Korea and Israel signed an agreement on industrial research and development in 1999. Based on the deal, the two countries established a joint R&D fund in 2001.

Over the past 20 years, the two countries raised total funds of $65 million, which supported more than 180 projects.

South Korea and Israel said they plan to expand ties in the area of hydrogen fuel cell cars and auto-pilot technologies down the road as well.

“The revised agreement on the technology cooperation, coupled with the free trade agreement, will pave the way for the two countries to further promote exchanges, trade and investment,” Industry Minister Moon Sung-wook said during the signing ceremony with his Israeli counterpart, Amir Peretz.

“South Korea’s semiconductor and information-communication technologies and Israel’s capabilities in launching startups can together create new investment and cooperation opportunities.”