Cabinet advances economic ties with China

Following Netanyahu's China trip, Knesset approves new committees to strengthen Israeli-Chinese business relations.

Netanyahu in China 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Netanyahu in China 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The cabinet, keen on capitalizing on the momentum created by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s recent visit to China, approved on Sunday the establishment of two governmental bodies aimed at pushing forward Israeli business and economic interests in the East Asian superpower.
Netanyahu said repeatedly during his trip two weeks ago that a different business model must be used with China since it is a communist country with a centralized economy.
Rather than Israeli businessmen trying in a wildcat fashion to make inroads, the better model – Netanyahu believes – is to work on a government-to-government, and when necessary leader-to-leader, level.
As such, the government approved the establishment to two high-level committees, whose objective will be to implement plans to strengthen Israeli-Sino economic ties, including increasing trade, mutual investments, and research and development projects between the countries.
The establishment of the committees is a product of agreements reached by Netanyahu and his Chinese counterpart, Li Keiqung, during Netanyahu’s meetings with him in Beijing. The Chinese are to set up similar committees.
The first committee is a ministerial committee headed by Netanyahu, which will include Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett, Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Health Minister Yael German, Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Yair Shamir, Transportation and National Infrastructure Minister Israel Katz, Minister of Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Yuval Steinitz and Water and Energy Minister Silvan Shalom.
The purpose of this committee, Netanyahu said, is to “reduce the bureaucracy for Israeli companies competing in China and in order to submit various projects by Israeli experts and Israeli companies throughout China, and most likely outside China, in third countries.”
The second committee will be headed by Netanyahu’s economics adviser, Eugene Kandel, and include the directors-general of all the relevant ministries.
“I attribute significance to the fact that Chinese Prime Minister Li said that China’s top planning agency, which is of great importance, will be part of the Chinese committee,” Netanyahu said.
“This might allow us to create a growth engine here. We are looking for ways to increase the pace of GNP growth, and opening the Chinese market is certainly one of the things with the potential to do this.”
Israel was showing great interest and acting immediately, and hoped the Chinese would respond in kind, Netanyahu said. “This has important significance in ensuring growth which, in the end, alongside greater efficiency, is the most important factor that will allow us to meet our national goals.”
Israel and China engaged in some $8 billion in trade in 2011 – $6b. of which was Chinese exports to Israel – a number that Netanyahu believes is just a fraction of the potential. While in China he said repeatedly that Israel’s innovation and China’s production capabilities should make the two countries a perfect business match.