China and India are seeking to encourage investments from and expand business opportunities with the Israeli business community as bilateral trade between the economies grows to record highs. "China has a lot to learn from the rich experience of the Israeli economy, in particular in the field of innovation and science," Zhang Xiaoan, Consule of China to Israel, said at the Migdal Capital Market Investors Conference in Tel Aviv on Monday. "China is the new growth engine of the world, but China is still a developing country and there are a lot of business opportunities and great potential for investment for Israelis." Economic cooperation between Israel and China has grown rapidly since 1992, Xiaoan noted, generating a trade volume of $3.8 billion in 2006, which was estimated to reach a target of $5b. in 2008 and $10b. in 2010. "In the first nine months of 2007 trade between China and Israel amounted to $3.9b., and by the end of the year we expect trade volume to reach a record of $5b., one year earlier than the set target," said Xiaoan. According to figures from last year, 900 Israeli companies were doing business with China mainly in the manufacturing business and in real estate, while 229 local companies set up branches in China. "Potential areas for Israeli investment include information technology (computer software), biotech, agriculture (fertilizer) and environmental projection (solar energy)," said Xiaoan. "Many Israeli companies like to make quick profit, but in China you have to be patient and adapt to our business culture of mutual profit." Speaking at the conference, Ambassador of India to Israel Arun K. Singh pointed to great opportunities for the Israeli business community to invest in his country. "You have seven million citizens in Israel. In India, we add eight million new phone subscribers every month. So there is great potential in the IT and telecom industry but also in the pharmaceutical, automotive and agriculture industries," he said. "There is a growing interest of Israelis into Indian trade and business, but the bulk, or 60% of the volume of trade, is still generated from diamonds followed by real estate, machinery, textiles and electronics." Earlier this year, the State Bank of India opened the first commercial branch of an Indian bank in Israel. Bi-lateral trade between Israel and India has grown from $200 million in 1992 to $2.7b. last year. "This year we expect trade between Israel and India to reach $3.3b. growing to $5b. over the next few years," said Singh. "We have established a bi-lateral R&D fund and we are also working on a free-trade agreement. Separately, the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, reported on Monday that trade between Israel and the European Union was expected to grow by 16.5% to $36.2b. this year from 2006 levels. Exports to the European Union are estimated to increase by 21% to $15.8b., while imports from the European Union are seen 13.3% to $20.4b.