Relations between Israel and the Chinese business center of Shenzhen took a step forward Sunday following the signing of an information- sharing agreement in Tel Aviv between the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce and Invest Shenzhen.

The agreement was signed during the China (Shenzhen)- Israel (Tel Aviv) Economy, Trade and Technologies Roundtable Conference, which was attended by Shenzhen Mayor Xu Qin and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai. It provides a framework for Israeli companies to send delegations to Shenzhen and organize seminars, conferences and roundtables with their counterparts in the southern Chinese city.

Three business-to-business agreements involving large Israeli and Shenzhen-based hi-tech companies were also signed at the event. Representatives from across the Israeli hi-tech industry were present at the roundtable discussion.

Last year, Shenzhen and Israel signed an agreement on industrial research and development cooperation, and participants from both countries said at Sunday’s event they hope to see the deal implemented soon. The FICC also has existing agreements with the Shenzhen Chambers of Commerce and the China Council of International Promotion of Trade.

Shenzhen has come a long way since 1980, when the Chinese central government declared the tiny fishing village as one of its special economic zones, or SEZs. Today it is home to 190 of the Forbes list of 500 largest companies.

In 2011 its gross domestic product was $180 billion, or about 75 percent of Israel’s GDP and making it the fourth-richest city in China.

This latest deal is particularly important because Shenzhen is the hi-tech capital of China, FICC vice president Arie Zief told The Jerusalem Post. It paves the way for Israeli companies to receive direct information about Chinese companies involved in growing fields such as biotech, organic agriculture and cleantech, he said.

Mayor Xu said there was a huge amount of room to explore cooperation between Shenzhen and Tel Aviv. He cited several industries, including biotech, new energy, new materials, new-generation information technology and creative industries.

Xu expressed to Huldai his hope that Shenzhen and Tel Aviv will strengthen their relationship, while acknowledging that he will sign a sister- city agreement with Haifa on Monday and that Tel Aviv already has a sister-city relationship with Beijing.

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