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Hong Kong Photo by Bloomberg
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HONG KONG − Israel may not have oil or tens of millions of potential consumers, but it does have innovation, advanced R&D in biotechnology and software, and financial information technology, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz told Hong Kong’s secretary for commerce and economic development on a visit to Hong Kong yesterday.

Steinitz’s meeting with Hong Kong’s commerce secretary, Rita Lau, followed a session with several dozen Hong Kong business leaders.

The finance minister told them he hoped his visit would promote bilateral trade as well as economic cooperation, and advance Israel’s image as a global research and development center.

Lau showed special interest in Israel’s entrepreneurial spirit, while Steinmetz noted the ease with which business could be conducted in Hong Kong and said Israel could learn from that. He said the global economic crisis brought home the importance of not relying only on markets in Europe and the United States.

Israel should make more efforts to develop business ties and to gain a foothold in the Chinese market, he said.

One Israeli business figure suggested yesterday that if Israel and Hong Kong were really interested in furthering business cooperation, it would require about $200 million in joint governmental funding. About 85 Israeli companies operate in Hong Kong.