Cabinet Briefed on 25 Years since the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations with China and India
(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Two senior Foreign Ministry officials, Director General for Asia and the Pacific Mark Sofer and Deputy Head of the Asia and Pacific Branch Hagai Shagrir, at the weekly Cabinet, this morning (Sunday, 29 January 2017), briefed ministers on developments in Israel's relations with the China and India, to mark the 25th anniversary of the establishment of relations with the two countries.
Hagai Shagrir said that the inter-governmental platforms between Israel and china were very good and added that the Chinese side has shown an urgency in doing business with Israel. He also pointed out that bilateral trade currently stands at $11 billion, $3 billion of which are exports. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted the low level of exports and said, "We must break past this. Given that this is a giant market, this is a strategic step for Israeli economy." It is anticipated that the bilateral free trade agreement currently being negotiated will significantly increase these numbers.
Mark Sofer emphasized that, "We must take advantage of the windows of opportunity with China and India; this is vital for us. These are two important countries and their desire to cooperate with Israel is very great." He requested that ministers work to this end.
Prime Minister Netanyahu directed thanked the Foreign Ministry personnel for their considerable and very important work in strengthening relations with the two countries.
Prime Minister Netanyahu:
"I would like to summarize a fundamental perspective. One must understand that several decades ago Israel had ties only with the US and Europe. We have moved forward with a very clear policy, not only diplomatically, but also vis-à-vis security and technology, which is changing the world. I would say that our leverage is technological diplomacy. Both their investments here and our trade with them are based on the leverage of the technological advantage. This is what has turned us in a significant player in the international arena despite our size.
We have the ability to leverage our strength with these major powers (China and India) and with many others in the world thanks to our technological abilities. This requires of us a constant international effort mainly to take advantage of opportunities. The only effort is how to take advantage of opportunities and not to block attacks; there are no attacks, only walls, bureaucracy and regulations, but opportunities are there and we must pursue them.
This requires us to understand something else, and it is key. In the end, most alliances, except that with the US, are based on interests. Our supreme interest is the conceptual abilities of our population, which are, relatively, much greater than other populations. This is a fact. If we cannot continue to innovate we will lose the advantage. And in order to continue to innovate we need a free market. If we close this market we will destroy and kill the goose in the State of Israel that lays golden eggs. These are not just economic golden eggs but also strategic and international. Therefore, we need to assure our continued efforts against overregulation and maintain our market and our high-tech industry."
* In 2016, China's GDP was $11 trillion (the second largest economy in the world after the US)
* China is Israel's third largest trading partner (and the largest in Asia)
* Bilateral trade at the time when relations were established was approximately $50 million. Today it is approximately $11 billion, of which $3 billion is exports
* Approximately one-third of investments in Israeli high-tech are from China and Hong Kong
* India has approximately 1.3 billion inhabitants (the second largest population in the world after China)
* Bilateral trade in 1992 was $200 million (mainly diamonds). Today it is approximately $4 billion.
* GDP (PPP) is $8.721 trillion. Growth in 2016 was 7.6%; over the past decade it has been over 6%