Israel hopes to triple its trade with Australia and develop new venues of joint research and development projects.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Thursday with his Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, and several members of his cabinet as the two countries signed several agreements and Memorandums of Understanding (MOU).
One agreement pertained to cooperation in industrial research and development, which is expected to strengthen bilateral commercial ties and enable companies from both countries to receive financing for joint R&D projects. This is in addition to previously signed R&D agreements with the Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales.
Bilateral trade currently stands at $1.1 billion. In 2016, Israel exported to Australia goods and services worth $700 million. Israel currently sends less than 1 percent of its exports to Australia, and Australian products account for just 0.3 percent of Israel’s imports.
Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester and Israeli Ambassador to Australia Shmuel Ben-Shmuel signed an aviation agreement. The two sides discussed a wide range of opportunities for cooperation on security, innovation, cyber-security, defense and transport.
“I think the opportunities are vast and I want to start with something very simple and narrow. Not only technology, not only cyber cooperation, not only R&D but actually, trade. Our trade is a billion dollars. It should be at least double or triple that. I’d like to encourage the Australian and Israeli companies to increase in trade. If I did the schlep [long trip, in Yiddish], they should do it too,” Netanyahu told those in attendance.
“The first thing I’d like to do is ask you to increase our trade, our bilateral trade. Second thing is to see how Australia can be a gateway for Israeli companies and Israeli investments into Asia. And I think that is a very promising possibility,” he added.
The crucial summit took place on the second day of Netanyahu’s four day historic visit to Australia, the first by an Israeli prime minister. Netanyahu enjoyed a very warm welcome from Turnbull and Sydney’s Jewish community.
By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News