China, Israel open talks on free trade deal

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JERUSALEM: Israel and China have opened talks on a free trade deal which could see commerce double between the two countries, Israeli officials announced on Tuesday.

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“China is prepared to begin free trade agreement negotiations with Israel,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong.

“This is a momentous development and we are ready to do so right away.”

A statement from Netanyahu’s office quoted Liu as saying the two countries are headed towards “big mutual projects”.

China is Israel’s third-largest economic partner, Netanyahu said, with annual trade of more than $8 billion a year.

His office said it expected trade to double if the agreement with the world’s second-largest economy is ratified.

It said the deal would include technological cooperation, as well as lowering trade barriers between the countries.

During the meeting in Jerusalem, 13 other agreements were signed on a range of topics.

“We have so much that we can do together,” Netanyahu added. AFP

AFP/CC

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