Israel and Japan took a major step towards a free trade agreement on Tuesday.
The countries decided to launch a joint study group, looking into the possibility of a Japan-Israel Economic Partnership Agreement, a senior official Israeli said.
The study can be viewed as a declaration of intent to eventually sign a free trade agreement and will look into the potential points of cooperation between the countries.
Israel and Japan have a relatively large volume of trade, with $1.24 billion in Israeli exports to Japan and $2.3 billion in the other direction. Japan has invested $13 bn. In Israeli hi-tech since 2000, and 85 Japanese companies are active in Israel to date.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid called the study group “a first step toward the signing of a free trade agreement…which means discounts for products and goods from Japan for the benefit of the Israeli market and increasing Israeli exports to Japan, the third-largest economy in the world.”
“A first step toward the signing of a free trade agreement…which means discounts for products and goods from Japan for the benefit of the Israeli market and increasing Israeli exports to Japan, the third-largest economy in the world.”Prime Minister Yair Lapid
“This is an important achievement for Israel’s economy and Israel’s standing in the world,” he added.
70 years of diplomatic relations
Israel and Japan mark 70 years of diplomatic relations this year, and Lapid said the move towards a free trade agreement is “further proof of [the relations’] growing strength, diplomatically and economically.”
Earlier this year, Defense Minister Benny Gantz traveled to Tokyo, in what the highest-level Israeli visit in a decade, to discuss increased defense cooperation.