Russia-Israel trade exceeds $5 billion for second year running

The two nations are working on a free trade agreement to further improve trade, particularly in high-tech.

Russian and Israeli delegates meet at the Russia Israel business dialogue forum in Jerusalem, January 2020. (photo credit: GAL YASENKOV)
Russian and Israeli delegates meet at the Russia Israel business dialogue forum in Jerusalem, January 2020.
(photo credit: GAL YASENKOV)
Trade between Israel and Russia exceeded $5 billion in both 2018 and 2019, taking the volume of trade above pre-crisis levels, Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze'ev Elkin
Addressing a recent meeting of the Russia-Israel Business Dialogue Forum, organized by the Israeli-Russian Business Council in Jerusalem, Elkin said: “Our trade volume, at least, according to the Israeli system, both in 2018 and 2019 exceeded US$5 billion. And, if for many years we were just below the US$4 billion mark and could not return to the pre-crisis level of US$4 billion, in the last two years we not only got back to that level, but also exceeded it.”
Following the meeting, Deputy Minister of Economic Development of Russia, Azer Mutalim ogly Talybov said that the parties at the meeting had discussed the possibility of opening a green corridor to allow the two nations to “efficiently solve any issue related to goods crossing the border, which involves the necessary optimization and acceleration of procedures.”
Both men were present at the forum, along with governor of St. Petersburg Alexander Beglov, Chair of the Israeli-Russian Business Council Temur Ben-Yehuda, CEO of the Israeli-Russian Business Council Kathy Dan, Chair of Israel-Russia Chamber of Commerce Anna Moshe, and a number of representatives from prominent Israeli businesses including Watergen and Teva.
Political relations between the two nations have been shaky as of late, in part due to Russia's backing of Iran, although efforts have been made to normalize them. In September Russia's president Vladimir Putin made his strongest public expression of kinship with the Jewish state to date, telling an event organized by the United Israel Appeal: “Citizens of Russia and Israel are connected by ties of family, kinship and friendship. This is a real network, a common family, I say without exaggeration. Israel has almost 2 million Russian-speaking citizens. We consider Israel a Russian-speaking state."
In October, Putin announced that his country is working on a possible free trade zone with Israel and Egypt.
“We consider economic cooperation to be the most important aspect of Russian-Israeli relations," said Chair of the Israeli-Russian Business Council, Temur Ben-Yehuda.
He added: "Making sure this cooperation continues to be strong at the highest level involving government agencies and the business community is key to a long-term mutually beneficial partnership between the two countries. Just recently, we on behalf of the Israeli-Russian Business Council signed an agreement with the city government of St. Petersburg, and today we are honored to welcome the leadership of Russia’s northern capital in Jerusalem."
St Petersburg governor Alexander Beglov also addressed the meeting, highlighting his city's interest in attracting Israeli investment and willingness to open joint ventures.
“We are particularly interested in scientific research that would advance manufacturing and create new jobs. We already have great relations in IT, medicine, pharmaceutical business, city public transit management, construction, and other areas,” Beglov said. 
Israel's exports have soared by over 70% over the last decade, with revenues heading toward $114 billion overall in 2019, the Foreign Trade Administration announced in December.
After China, the greatest decade-long increases in exports were registered in the United Kingdom (286%), Poland (162%), Japan (73%), Turkey (66%) and Brazil (61%).