Israel, Japan to Start Talks on Free Trade Agreement

Israel and Japan have agreed to open talks that aim to reach a free trade agreement, which could increase bilateral trade at more than $3.5 billion, Israeli foreign ministry said on Tuesday. Representatives from the Israeli foreign and economy ministries will meet with Japanese officials for the first phase of discussions. According to the foreign ministry, Israel’s exports to Japan have reached $1,24 billion in 2021, an 8% increase from 2020. Imports have also climbed 10%, reaching $2.33 billion in 2021.

Israeli Prime Minister Lapid called the move as a diplomatic achievement.

“This is a meaningful process that could lead to lower customs, cheaper sales of Japanese cars imported to Israel and an expansion of the Israeli goods exported to Japan,” Israel’s ambassador to Japan Cohen said in a statement.

The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1952, with bilateral trade increasing and defense ties becoming closer in recent years. Japanese companies have invested a total of $13 billion in the Israeli tech industry since 2000, and over 85 Japanese companies are currently operating in Israel. Japan accounts for 15.8% of all foreign investments in Israeli tech industry, compared to just 1.8% in 2016, and 12% of total investment.

At the end of August, Israel and Japan signed a cooperation agreement on defense technology and military equipment.

Last year, the volume of trade in goods and services between the two countries amounted to $3.57 billion, according to Foreign Ministry figures. Exports increased 8% to $1.24 billion year-on-year mainly driven by business services, optical and medical equipment, base metals, and machinery products. Imports rose 10% to $2.33 billion in 2021 from the previous year.

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