Minister Steinitz
Minister SteinitzIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Business relations between Israel and China are set to grow significantly after Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz inked a deal Wednesday worth over NIS 1 billion with Chinese officials. Under the deal, Israeli companies will export water technologies to China, to aid that country with water purification and agricultural projects. The projects will be set up mostly in agricultural areas of the Chinese provinces of Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia and Xinjiang.

At a ceremony in Beijing Wednesday, Steinitz said that Israel “sees the expansion of economic ties between Israel and China as a very important strategic goal.” Speaking with Chinese Finance Minister Xie Xuren, Steinitz said that “each time we meet the level of trade between our two countries grows, and I hope this trend will continue.” Steinitz invited his Chinese counterpart to visit Israel. The two also discussed the possibility of Israel's exporting of natural gas to China, with the two finance ministers saying that that talks specifically about this issue would take place soon.

Xie said that China was “very pleased with the growth of trade between China and Israel, which are growing quickly, and we intend to encourage this trend. There are many projects in agriculture and technology involving Israeli companies that are important for our economic relations.”

Under the terms of the protocol, a line of credit guaranteed by both countries will be set up to fund Israeli investment in China, and trade between the two countries. Long-term loans at low interest rates will be granted, and grants are available for some project components. This is the fourth economic protocol Israel and China have signed since 1995, with 220 joint Israeli-Chinese projects worth over $600 million. Most of these projects have been in the medical and communications field. A Finance Ministry spokesperson said that it was the success of those previous protocols that prompted the development of the new one signed Wednesday.