Binyamin Netanyahu, Chinese VP Liu Yandong
Binyamin Netanyahu, Chinese VP Liu Yandong Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash 90

Chinese state media on Tuesday reported that the Asian economic superpower, which holds the world's second largest GDP, will begin negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with Israel next year.

China likewise will look to advance free trade talks with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates next year, reports China Daily.

"GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries consider China as a major market for their petrochemical products, and this (FTA) will assist those nations in their industrial development," said Zhang Shaogang, head of the Chinese Commerce Ministry’s international trade and economic affairs department.

Zhang noted that his ministry had completed a study regarding free trade talks with Israel, and hopes to seal an agreement within the next few years.

"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 professor of international trade at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, was quoted as saying in the Chinese paper.

The Chinese move to advance Israeli ties comes after earlier this month it was announced China plans to send two giant panda bears to Israel, part of its centuries old "panda diplomacy" that signifies a growing alliance.

That alliance has been seen in recent months after the two nations signed a landmark agreement to push economic ties in May, and more recently last month as an Israeli delegation visited China to advance business cooperation.

According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel imported $5.52 billion in Chinese goods through the first 11 months of 2014, an increase from $5.21 in the same period last year. Exports to China jumped to $2.59 billion, up from $2.55 billion the year before.

Israel has been increasingly looking to the east as ties with Europe and America politicize and sour, with recent pushes seeing Israel actively court Japan and India, in addition to China.

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