Prime Minister Netanyahu: "I was delighted to hear today from Vice Premier Liu that China is prepared to begin free trade agreement negotiations with Israel. This is a momentous development and we are ready to do so right away. We have so much that we can do together. We discussed the various fields in which this can happen - in health care, in remote education, in agriculture, in marine agriculture, in IT. In every field of human endeavor the cooperation between Israel and China can yield enormous results. And we believe that Israel can be a perfect partner."
Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong said that China was pleased to begin talks on a free trade zone and added that her country is ready to cooperate for the benefit of both peoples. She said that Israel and China are heading toward major joint projects and noted that Israel is known throughout the world for its innovation.
The significance of the opening of the talks:
When the trade agreement takes effect, it could double bilateral trade (currently around $8 billion);
This agreement will include trade in goods and services, as well as economic and technological cooperation;
The free trade agreement could increase GDP in both countries;
The agreement will cause an increase in investments and lead to significant economic benefits for both countries;
This agreement constitutes a very significant step in bilateral economic relations.
The future trade agreement between China and Israel will deal with many issues, including:
1) The removal of impediments to trade - Israeli exports to China will benefit from easier entry to China and vice-versa; and
2) The agreement will enable the lifting of impediments in the fields of standardization and regulation.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong met at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, and opened the second meeting of the 2016 Israel-China innovation conference. This is the most important Israel-China inter-governmental platform, the establishment of which was signed by Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chinese Vice Premier Liu during her visit to Israel in 2014. The first meeting was held in January 2015 in Beijing.
The work of the conference was led and coordinated by the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Science and Technology Ministry. Dozens of government ministries and agencies (including the Foreign Ministry; Science, Technology and Space Ministry; the Economy and Industry Ministry Chief Scientist the Economy and Industry Ministry; the Health Ministry; the Education Ministry; the Culture and Sports Ministry; the Energy Ministry; the Agriculture Ministry; and the Patents Authority), as well as the Higher Education Council, the National Science Foundation and leading universities in both countries, all participated in the work of the conference.
Thirteen bilateral cooperation agreements were signed during the event.
At the start of the event, there was a meeting between the two delegations, led by the Prime Minister and the Chinese Vice Premier. Also participating were Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, Foreign Ministry Director General Dr. Dore Gold and Israeli Ambassador to China Matan Vilnai.
The Chinese Vice Premier arrived with the Chinese Science and Technology Minister, the Chinese Ambassador to Israel, the deputy Foreign and Health ministers and other senior officials.