China and Israel agreed to enter negotiations over the establishment of a free-trade zone, Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong announced last Tuesday in Jerusalem.
According to Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu, a free-trade agreement would significantly improve bilateral cooperation in many different sectors.
A future free-trade agreement would cover standardization, implementation of regulations, and the removal of existing trade barriers for imports and exports. It would also detail bilateral cooperation in the technological and economic sectors. A free-trade agreement between Israel and China may not only increase the gross national product of both countries, but could also double the total value of traded goods between both countries, which currently stands at US$8 billion.
During her visit to Israel Vice Premier Liu Yandong signed agreements on education, culture, science and technology, healthcare, and a range of other fields. “Israel is an important country in the Middle East with its own distinct features and China takes Israel very seriously,” she said.
Israel and China signed a 10-year multiple entry visa agreement, making Israel only the third country to have such an arrangement with Beijing.
Hagai Shagrir, the director of the Foreign Ministry’s Northeast Asia department said that “So far, China has 10-year multiple entry visa agreements only with the US and with Canada, so the agreement to be signed this week is a tremendous achievement for Israeli diplomacy.”
The deal will allow Israeli businesspeople and tourists to enter China multiple times with the same visa, which will be valid for a decade. The same will apply for Chinese citizens visiting Israel, an arrangement which Jerusalem hopes will help increase tourism.