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Israel, China hold first direct talks on free-trade agreement since 2019

A source close to the negotiations said that the two sides were “at an advanced stage of tying up loose ends.”

President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping. Source: Kremlin.ru.
President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping. Source: Kremlin.ru.

Israel and China participated in the first direct talks on a free-trade agreement at the end of March since November 2019 and the eighth round since 2016, Globes reported.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China confirmed that the talks between representatives from the two countries took place and that issues related to free trade were discussed, including the transportation of goods and customs procedures.

A source close to the talks told Globes that the two sides were “at an advanced stage of tying up loose ends” and that “the agreement between the two countries could be signed this year.”

China is Israel’s second-largest trading partner by country after the United States, with the value of trade increasing last year by 11.6% to $24.45 billion. Israel’s exports to China in 2022 were valued at $4.68 billion, second to the United States. (The European Union is Israel’s largest trading partner.)

The most recent free-trade agreement involving Israel was the United Arab Emirates. It was signed on May 31, 2022—less than two years after the signing of the Abraham Accords in the fall of 2020—and went into force on April 1 of this year.

Before that, Israel signed a free-trade agreement with South Korea on May 12, 2021, which went into force on the first of this year.

Israel is also negotiating bilateral trade agreements with Abraham Accords partner Bahrain as well as Australia, India, Japan, Vietnam and the Eurasian Economic Union.

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