China will speed up talks on free trade agreements with six countries on the Arabian Peninsula and begin trade negotiations with Israel next year, state media said on Tuesday.
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China and members of the Gulf Cooperation Council - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - started free trade talks in 2004. A deal will help China cut costs on energy imports from the region, the official China Daily said.
“GCC countries consider China as a major market for their petrochemical products, and this (FTA) will assist those nations in their industrial development,” Zhang Shaogang, head of the Commerce Ministry’s international trade and economic affairs department, was quoted as saying.
Zhang added that the ministry has finished a feasibility study on launching free trade talks with Israel and hopes to sign an free trade area agreement in the next few years, the English-language newspaper said.
“China is exporting consumer goods in exchange for Israel’s high-tech products. Most of their imports are reasonably complementary and do not represent any direct competition,” Zhao Zhongxiu, a trade professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, was quoted in the newspaper as saying.
Israel runs a deep merchandise-trade deficit with China. It imported some $5.52 billion of Chinese goods in the first 11 months of this year, against $5.21 billion in the year-earlier period. But exports to China reached just $2.59 billion, up from $2.55 billion the year before, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics.
China inked major free trade agreements with Australia and South Korea this year. It already has deals with a handful of other countries, including Costa Rica, Peru and New Zealand, and with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
China inked major free trade agreements with Australia and South Korea this year, and already has deals with a handful of other countries, including Costa Rica, Peru, New Zealand and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.