Chinese commerce minister’s visit to Israel serves as another stepping-stone in economic collaboration between Jewish state, Asian superpower
Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming signed a memorandum of understanding to promote commerce and cooperation between the Israel Export Institute and the Chinese commerce development institute during his recent visit to Israel.
The minister’s visit and the festive signing ceremony that ensued allowed a glimpse into the backstage collaborations that have been forming between Israeli and Chinese authorities throughout recent years.
In his biography, Deming depicts China’s new generation of economic leaders. He was born in 1949 – the year Mao Tse-Tung came into power – but only joined the party in 1974, when China was already undergoing economic reforms.
The Chinese minister earned his doctorate in administration and boasts an additional degree in economics. His academic and professional progress demonstrates China’s transformation in the past few decades from an ideology-driven regime to a meritocracy.
Addressing an audience in Jerusalem, Deming sent a clear message: China is moving forward, and Israel is considered a potential partner that can efficiently cooperate with the regional superpower.
The equation is clear – China will bring to the table investment funds and its humongous domestic market and Israel will contribute its knowledge and innovation.
Room to grow
Many initiatives have been geared toward this aim, including the establishment of a green commerce park in China together with Israel; the creation of platforms for the implementation of Israeli technologies in China; collaboration in the fields of water and agriculture; delegation exchanges; seminars; the establishments of mutual high-tech funds and more.
The Israeli business world has a wide scope in which to develop; according to the Israel Export Institute, trade between Israel and China reached some $6.8 billion in 2010 – a 49% increase compared with 2009. Despite the encouraging figures, experts say Israel’s export potential is still far from being realized.
While China is Israel’s second largest trading partner, Israeli exports to China (excluding diamonds) amounted to only 0.13% of the latter’s total imports. Tough it is unlikely to match the exporting scope of Japan, India or the United States, Israel can undoubtedly increase its share significantly.
One of the channels working toward that end is the joint committee meetings, which is the official reason for the Chinese minister’s visit to Israel. The committee marked several successes, namely drafting a financial protocol that regulates bank loans with long term credit for goods heading to China.
These meetings have been held since 2000, and enable senior echelons to discuss and resolve commerce issues between the two countries, such as increasing the frequency of flights between Israel and China and promoting tourism to Israel.
An example for Israeli business opportunities in China is the car industry. China boasts over 30 car manufacturers and is attempting to break out of its domestic market and become a significant player in the global arena.
Nowadays, the car market is controlled by the usual suspects: Toyota, Hyundai, Ford etc’. China is trying to create its own niche by entering the market of alternative fuel vehicles such as electric cars; that’s where Israel comes in.
Israeli companies such as Nanergy, ETV Motors and CellEra can get involved in China’s efforts to reduce these vehicles’ battery dimensions and prolong their travel distances. The collaborative projects may one day become the world’s leading technology in the field.
Tal Reshef is a consultant and lecturer on culture and business in Asia, and trains employees for relocation