Harper and Netanyahu (archive)
Harper and Netanyahu (archive)Reuters

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Tuesday announced that negotiations toward an expanded and modernized Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA) had concluded.

Harper’s office said in a statement that the updated CIFTA will notably provide expanded market access opportunities for agricultural, fish and seafood products through the reduction or elimination of Israeli tariffs on a large number of products, and duty-free access under tariff rate quotas for certain products.

Four existing areas of the current CIFTA have been modernized, namely market access for goods, rules of origin, institutional provisions, and dispute settlement, according to the statement.

In addition, seven new chapters have been included in the areas of trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, intellectual property, electronic commerce, labor, and environment.

This robust CIFTA will support Canadian businesses and investors, deepen trade and investment linkages, and further strengthen Canada’s bilateral relationship with Israel, said Harper’s office.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke to Harper on Tuesday evening, hours after the announcement was made, thanking him for his continued support of Israel which Harper recently reaffirmed on Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.

"Canada is one of Israel’s closest friends. We deeply appreciate our extensive and deep cooperation with the Canadian government, which has flourished in recent years and of which the free trade agreement is but one example,” Netanyahu said.

“This expanded and modernized agreement will further energize the trade between our countries to the benefit of both our peoples,” he added.

Harper continued to stand up for the Jewish state during last summer’s conflict in Gaza. The Canadian leader called on Canada’s allies and partners to recognize that Hamas’s terrorist acts “are unacceptable and that solidarity with Israel is the best way of stopping the conflict.” He also blamed Hamas for the heavy loss of civilian life in Gaza during the fighting.