Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement

Background Information

The CIFTA entered into force on January 1, 1997, eliminating tariffs on all industrial products manufactured in Canada and Israel as well as a limited number of agricultural and fisheries products. Between 1999 and 2003, additional agricultural and agri-food tariff reductions on goods previously excluded from the Agreement were successfully negotiated. This included preferences for a number of Canada's top agricultural and agri-food exports to Israel.  The CIFTA is a goods-only agreement.

On October 10, 2010, the Honourable Peter Van Loan, former Minister of International Trade, and his Israeli counterpart Binyamin Ben Eliezer, Israel's then Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour, announced that Canada and Israel were to undertake steps toward modernizing the existing Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA).  The Ministers 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. (See News Release: Harper Government Announces Exploratory Talks to Expand the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement)

Canada-Israel bilateral goods trade has more than doubled since CIFTA came into force, from $507.3 million in 1996 to $1.4 billion in 2012.  Canada's consideration of whether and to what extent to expand the coverage of the CIFTA will take into account, inter alia, potential stakeholder interests through a public consultation process.

On January 21, 2014, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel, announced the launch of negotiations to expand and modernize the CIFTA Agreement  (See News Release: PM Launches Negotiations to Expand Free Trade with Israel).

Canada will seek to modernize existing chapters in the Agreement in the areas of market access for goods, rules of origin, institutional provisions and dispute settlement. Canada will also seek to negotiate new chapters in the areas of trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, intellectual property, e-commerce, labour and environment. 

An expanded and modernized CIFTA would benefit Canadian companies by: 

  • Reducing or eliminating tariffs on agricultural and fish/seafood products;
  • reducing technical barriers for trade;
  • enhancing cooperation;
  • increasing transparency in regulatory matters;
  • reducing transaction costs; and,
  • further enhancing Canada’s visibility in the Israeli market.

Consultations

In October 2011, the Government of Canada sought Canadian views on an expanded and modernized CIFTA via a Canada Gazette Notice. Our Government continues to welcome comments and questions from interested stakeholders. More information can be found on the consultations page of the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development website.