Harper Government Announces Exploratory Talks to Expand the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement

Canada’s ambitious free trade agenda includes expanding trade and investment ties in Israel

(No. 330 – October 10, 2010 – 5:00 p.m. ET) The Honourable Peter Van Loan, Minister of International Trade, today concluded a two-day visit to Israel to promote closer commercial relations, including exploratory talks in order to expand the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

“The Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement has been tremendously beneficial for our two countries. Two-way merchandise trade has more than doubled since its implementation,” said Minister Van Loan. “Canada’s ties to Israel are very deep, and our friendship is important. Our government is building on these ties and looking at opportunities to expand our trade relationship. We are committed to creating new sources of jobs, growth and prosperity for both of our countries in the years ahead.”

In Tel Aviv, Minister Van Loan met with Binyamin Ben Eliezer, Israel’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour. The ministers discussed expanding the FTA and agreed that officials would start exploratory talks in order to work on moving beyond the original, first-generation trade agreement that is currently in place by significantly expanding its application.

“Expanding the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement is part of the Harper government’s broad and ambitious free trade agenda. In just four years, our government has negotiated new trade agreements with eight countries, is in negotiation with close to 50 others, and is now expanding the three first-generation agreements signed by the former government,” said the Minister.

While in Tel Aviv, Minister Van Loan met with Israel’s Minister of Science and Technology, Daniel Hershkowitz. Their meeting focused on strategies for increasing cooperation in science and technology. Minister Van Loan also met with the Chief Scientist from Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labour, Dr. Eli Opper, to discuss potential joint innovation initiatives.

“There are a great many opportunities for cooperation between Israel and Canada when it comes to the commercialization of science,” said Minister Van Loan. “Canada and Israel can be even more effective partners in the areas of technology collaboration, research and development, and innovation commercialization. We hope to see increased collaboration that will bring significant benefits to both our countries, including future economic growth, improved health and environmental sustainability.”

The Minister also visited Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. in Petach-Tikva and met with President and Chief Executive Officer Shlomo Yanai. The Israel-based company is a leader in the pharmaceuticals sector, with production facilities and offices in Canada.

During a Sunday visit at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, Minister Van Loan commemorated the victims of the Holocaust by laying a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance.

Israel is a key economic partner for Canada. Since the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement came into force, two-way merchandise trade has more than doubled, reaching $1.3 billion last year. Israel is Canada’s sixth-largest merchandise export market in the Middle East.

For additional details on Minister Van Loan’s visit, consult Ministerial visit to Israel.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Monika Bujalska
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Peter Van Loan
Minister of International Trade
613-992-9304
monika.bujalska@international.gc.ca

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-996-2000