BEIJING – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang signed an agreement Wednesday enabling Israel to increase exports to China by offering exporters extra financial protection.
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The deal increases the amount of insurance against currency risk offered to Israeli and Chinese exporters in the other's market. Until now, the countries had an agreement in force worth $1.35 billion. The new agreement raises that figure to $2.05 billion.
"This is a very important deal for advancing cooperation between Israel and China," Netanyahu said. "China is a massive market, and if we slightly increase our market share here, it will significantly help Israel's economy."
Netanyahu was hosted at the Great Hall of the People at Tiananmen Square. He was received by Keqiang, who was appointed to a 10-year term in March, and the rest of the new leadership. The ceremony was grand, including a cannon-fire salute for Netanyahu.
The new protocol grants state backing to long-term export contracts. This decreases the financing costs faced by exporters and makes Israeli companies more competitive abroad.
Israel had previously signed three such agreements worth a total of $1.65 billion. Last year the countries inked a deal offering another $300 million in protection for exporters of water-saving technology. These previous support arrangements helped lead to 236 contracts worth a total of $771 million.
The Finance Ministry's accountant general, Michal Abadi-Boiangiu, was on hand in Beijing to sign the latest deal.
"Expanding the protocol is a sign that economic ties between the countries have been tightening over the past few years," she said. "We've seen an increasing pace of approvals on the part of the Chinese, and the number of projects coming up for approval doesn't stop growing."