Israel to cement economic ties with China in free-trade agreement

By February 02 2017, 10:41 Latest News No Comments

Rivlin ChinaIsrael and China are in the process of completing a free-trade agreement, marking an upgrade in relations that coincides with the 25th anniversary of diplomacy between the two powers.

Cooperation between the two states has shown positive outcomes in trade, science and technology, as well as face-to-face exchanges.

Hagai Shagrir, Deputy Head of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Asia Division, said that the platforms between the Israeli and Chinese government are extensive, with there being a significant push from the Chinese to do business with Israel. Efforts have been made to increase Chinese investment in Israel, with more Israeli companies opening offices in China, and Chinese company Bright Food purchasing Tnuva, an Israeli dairy company in 2015.

25 years ago, trade volume between the two countries stood at $50 million. Since then, Israel-China trade has increased by more than 200 times and currently stands at $11 billion, although Israeli exports only account for $3 billion of the trade. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the issue: “We must break this trend. This is a massive market and a strategic step for the Israeli economy”.

Chinese Ambassador to Israel Zhan Yongxin praised the increasing partnership: “Our two economies are highly complementary, which means a great potential of deeper and wider cooperation…Israel is a nation well known for innovation and advanced technology. China has a huge and open market as well as exceptional manufacturing capabilities. Our cooperation will greatly benefit both countries”.

China has embarked on a landmark programme called ‘One Belt, One Road’ to create a new trade corridor between China and Europe. Israeli businessmen have expressed hope that Israel could play a role in the project.

Roi Feder, managing director of global communications consulting company APCO WorldWide stated: “If you look at the next few years Israel has the potential for becoming a major trade gateway between Asia and Europe…Goods could be transferred between southern port city of Eilat or Ashdod, and go up north to Haifa. Israel could become logistics hub for goods being stored here”.

Ambassador Yongxin also discussed tourism, stating that 80,000 Chinese tourists visited Israel in 2016 and that the number looks to increase in 2017. China has established a scholarship scheme that funds Israeli students to study in China, with hundreds of Chinese students currently studying in Israel.

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