Israel and China signed a $400 million trade agreement on Wednesday, which expands the already existing financial protocol between the two countries to more than $2 billion.
The deal was signed by Finance Ministry Accountant-General Michal Abadi-Boiangiu and officials from China’s Finance Ministry, in the presence of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on a five-day trip to China that began on Sunday.
“This is a very important agreement for expanding bilateral cooperation. China is a vast market and if we even slightly increase our market share here it will significantly help the Israeli economy,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu said that Israeli-Chinese trade amounted to some $8 billion each year, and the two countries were constantly working to increase that amount. “The potential for bilateral trade is vast,” he said.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, “the protocol is a bilateral financial agreement that allows for the growth of Israeli exports to China by means of state guarantees in support of long-term export deals.”
Since the signing of the initial financial protocols, Israel has exported a total of some $771 million worth of goods and services to China, according to the Prime Minister’s office.
Earlier in the day, the prime minister met with his Chinese counterpart at a formal ceremony, complete with honor guard, in Beijing. During the meeting, the two leaders agreed to establish a joint team which will work on expanding technological cooperation.
In the afternoon, Netanyahu participated in a live video chat with millions of Chinese Internet users, hosted by the popular government-sponsored Xinhua News Agency.
Most of the questions revolved around Israel-Chinese relations. Netanyahu, who visited China 15 years ago during his first term as prime minister in 1998, said that he was impressed by the “development, progress and tremendous growth” he saw in China.