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China and Israel sign deals to strengthen economic ties

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s state visit to China has seen both countries sign a raft of mutually beneficial agreements.

Netanyahu met with Premier Li Keqiang and signed a series of cooperation agreements in various fields, including aviation, education, science, health and environmental protection. A deal was also agreed which would see China bring construction workers to Israel.

Netanyahu arrived in China with five ministers and the largest ever Israeli business delegation. The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office revealed that the two countries would continue talks on the establishment of a free trade agreement between China and Israel. Negotiations began last year, with another round of talks scheduled for July.

Netanyahu’s last visit to China was in May 2013, when he also met with political leaders and focused on boosting bilateral trade, which at that point stood at $8 billion annually.

Today, China is Israel’s largest trading partner in Asia and third largest in the world, with bilateral trade volume surpassing $11 billion. Experts say that number could easily skyrocket if a long sought-after free-trade agreement is reached.

Having already enjoyed an official reception ceremony at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with President Xi Jinping who will host him for an official dinner.

In addition to diplomatic affairs, Netanyahu is also scheduled to lay a wreath at the Monument to the People’s Heroes in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.