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Israel calls for closer cooperation with China

2013-07-05 15:26 Xinhua Web Editor: qindexing

Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett Thursday called for strengthening innovation cooperation between Israel and China in the fields of technology, water, energy, agriculture and biomed in order to push bilateral trade and economic relations to a new height.

"I think there is so much that we can do together and right now it's only a little drop in a big ocean of the trade and business relations between the two nations," Bennett told Xinhua in an interview at his office in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv, referring to the great potential in China-Israel trade.

The two-way trade between China and Israel reached nearly $10 billion in 2012, making China Israel's largest trading partner in Asia and its third largest trading partner in the world.

Bennett will leave for China Saturday with a delegation of Israeli businessmen from the IT, finance and other sectors for a week-long visit, which will take him to the capital Beijing and Shanghai.

"It's not only my first visit as minister to China, it's my first visit abroad as economy minister, I decided that my first visit will be to China before any other country, because of the unique importance," he stressed.

China is "a major power and player in the international market" and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "set an objective for the ministers of the government to create strong viable relations with China," he said, adding that "we've made a strategic decision to go to the east, to go to China."

The main goal of this visit is "to strengthen the ties between the Israeli and Chinese economies, to open up a pipeline of business, to make actual connections between business people on both sides and primarily to open up a channel of innovation, because that's what we in Israel do best, we innovate, we manufacture innovation ... and that's a sort of thing that I think is a huge win for China and a huge win for Israel," he said.

"We have a great desire to share our technology with the Chinese people, and we also want to create a special innovation relationship with China. We want to see Chinese business people come to Israel, and Israeli business people live for a while in China and sort of being economic ambassadors of both sides," said the 41-year-old minister, who was a successful software entrepreneur.

"We need to be working together, we need to be doing business together, we need to be bringing new technology to the world together, and I can not think of a more exciting match than the Israel-China cooperation," he said when talking about the need to enhance cooperation between Israeli and Chinese companies.

Bennett denied there are restrictions on Israel's high-tech exports to China.

"I don't believe that there is any restriction on high-tech. In security areas, there's restriction all over the world. It's not unique. In fact, I'm bringing along with me a delegation of software entrepreneurs and CEOs in the IT sector and the financial services sector, and we are all about sharing and growing together, " he said.

According to Bennett, his upcoming China visit is one of the steps taken by Israel to implement the consensus Netanyahu reached in May with Chinese leaders to further tap bilateral trade and economic cooperation potential. After his visit to China in May, Netanyahu established a ministerial committee chaired by himself and an inter-ministerial committee to promote economic ties with China.

"The Chinese and Israeli governments have formed a joint committee, a bilateral committee, to implement the vision of growing the business relationship and economic relationship between the two peoples. I'm actually the vice chair of this committee from the Israeli side ... We expected to put it into action in the next few months," Bennett said.

The minister also expressed Israel's intention to start free trade talks with China. "One of our goals is to initiate it (the talks) right now. So this is a goal. But it's going to take a while ... I'm very excited about this opportunity," he said.

As to Israel's cooperation with China in doing business in third countries, Bennett said Israel's skills and expertise combined with China's know-how will be "a huge win" for both countries.

When talking about his impression of China, Bennett, who visited China in 2008, said he was very impressed by "the sizzling of entrepreneurship" in China and the desire of the Chinese people to grow businesses.

"I'm (also) impressed by the (Chinese) government who is doing an amazing job that the world is admiring," he added.

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