A 110-strong business delegation from Shanghai was in Israel this week. The visit coincided with the China (Shanghai) Economic & Trade Cooperation Exhibition in Tel Aviv, which in turn was part of Shanghai Week in Israel, held to mark the 15th anniversary of the sister-city relationship between Shanghai and Haifa.
Alongside the exhibition was a forum for match-making between Israeli and Shanghai companies.
Zhou Hui, Economic and Commercial Counselor at the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Israel, told "Globes" that the delegation and exhibition had several aims. "We would like to import more Israeli competitive products to reduce the trade surplus," he said, and added that the kinds of products in which Israel is a world leader matched areas in which the Chinese government was keen to invest.
"The Chinese government is putting more money into people's health, and therefore Israeli products in the areas of pharmaceuticals and medical devices are of great interest to us," he said.
Other areas in which China is keen to take advantage of Israeli products and know-how are information technology, agriculture, and water.
Under its National Climate Change Program, China has also instituted measures to deal with the environmental problems associated with its rapid growth the country is now the largest emitter of carbon dioxide and here, too, Israeli companies can contribute, according to Zhou, who mentioned the growing number of Israeli cleantech companies.
Asked whether commercial relations between China and Israel might extend to investment as well as trade, Zhou said that this was also a goal in line with Chinese government policy. "Chinese investment in Israel is at an early stage," he said, "but the government has adopted new policies to go global and encourage Chinese companies to invest in foreign companies. There are Chinese companies doing feasibility studies, but the money is not big at present."
Zhou mentioned the possibility of Chinese companies setting up R&D centers in Israel, and also medical devices, energy, and desalination as areas that might attract Chinese investment.
At least one collaborative venture between Israel and China is already underway, in the form of an agreement for joint car production that Israel Corp. (TASE: ILCO) recently entered into with Chinese vehicle manufacturer Chery Automobile. Israel Corp. is also an investor in Shai Agassi's electric car project Better Place, and Zhou mentioned that Chinese industry could produce parts for the cars, including the batteries.
In 2006, the last year for which full statistics are available, Israeli imports from China totaled $2.4 billion, while exports to that country totaled $959 million.
The China (Shanghai) Economic & Trade Cooperation Exhibition was organized jointly by CCPIT Shanghai Sub-Council, the Israel Export Institute, the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, the Manufacturers Association of Israel, and the Israel-Asia Chamber of Commerce.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes.co.il - on June 5, 2008
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