China and Israel announce talks on free trade deal

Talks on free trade begin; Innovation and entrepreneurship center to be established; 10 year visa agreement made

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Yandong & Netanyahu (Haim Tzah)

China and Israel signed an agreement to create a joint-center for innovation and entrepreneurship, one of thirteen agreements made between the two states since Thursday. The agreement was signed by Israel’s Ben Gurion University of the Negev, President Rivka Carmi and vice chairman Professor Li Cai of Jilin University in Jerusalem.

Cai stated on the agreement “The agreement is a symbol of a new stage of productive and innovative collaborations based on our China-Israel Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.” The center will hold a conference entitled “Entrepreneurship and Innovation, China-Israel – Challenges and Opportunities” at the Ben Gurion University in May.

The establishment of the center comes just a few days after China and Israel announced the opening of talks on a free trade deal. The trade deal would “see commerce double between the two countries” if successful. In a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong who visited Israel into the weekend, Prime Minister Netanyahu stated on the announcement “China is prepared to being free trade agreement negotiations with Israel. This is a momentous development and we are ready to do so right away.”

China and Israel also agreed to permit 10-year visas for its citizens each other’s countries. Head of the North East Asian vision of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Hagai Shgrir, stated that “This visa agreement is very important, especially since next month Hainan airlines will begin flying directly from China to Israel. The second consideration Chinese have when deciding where to travel,b esides amicable visa policies, is whether or not there are direct flights to their destination and if  Chinese companies fly to these destinations. With both the air-link and improved visa access, we will be able to reach our goal of having 100,000 Chinese tourists visit Israel within two or three years.”