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Canada Modernizes Free Trade Agreement with Israel

July 27, 2015

“Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.  Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever.”  (Psalm 112:5–6)

While many around the world seek to enforce and expand a boycott of Israel, Canada enriched its Free Trade Agreement with Israel on Tuesday, strengthening ties between Canadian and Israeli businesses.

When the deal was announced last week, Canadian politicians not only hailed the agreement’s benefits, they also emphasized commitment to Israel.

“Canada and Israel are the most natural of economic partners.  This agreement will fuel job creation and economic growth in both of our countries, which is in Canada’s national interest.  It is also another example of our government’s unwavering commitment to the future of the State of Israel,” Canada’s Minister of Finance Joe Oliver stated.

“Israel is a priority market for Canada and holds great potential for Canadian companies in a variety of sectors.  An enhanced free trade agreement will strengthen an already stellar relationship between our two countries, creating jobs and opportunities for both our peoples,” said Ed Fast, Canada’s Minister of International Trade.

Israel-Canada Free Trade

Ed Fast, Canada’s Minister of International Trade, applauds the conclusion of the enhanced Canada-Israel free trade agreement.

Although Canada’s trade agreement with Israel is one of many, Oliver said that Israel is special.

“Today we have agreements with 43 countries, including the world’s two largest markets, the United States and the European Union,” he said.  “One of those agreements is with Israel, and I take great pride in it.  After all, Israel is a light to the world, the city upon the hill for the Jewish People.  In a too frequently hostile or indifferent world, Israel has no greater friend than Canada.”

Trade Ministry Press Secretary Max Moncaster also affirmed the Canadian commitment to Israel.

“Canada deeply values its close ties with Israel and is fully committed to continuing to strengthen our economic partnership,” Moncaster said.  (The Whig) 

According to Moncaster, the trade minister’s “trade mission to Israel will provide on-the-ground support to Canadian companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, as they take advantage of the opportunities available in one of the most dynamic economies in the Middle East.”

Kinneret fish-fisherman

Fisherman on the Galilee (KORE photos)

The updated Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA) promotes e-commerce, eliminates non-tariff barriers and eases regulatory hurdles.  It also reduces or eliminates taxes on imported agriculture, seafood and fish products.

“Four existing areas of the current CIFTA have been modernized, namely market access for goods, rules of origin, institutional provisions, and dispute settlement,” the government’s press release states.  “In addition, seven new chapters have been included in the areas of trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, intellectual property, electronic commerce, labour, and environment.”

Fast seeks to strengthen bilateral trade with Israel not only in agriculture and seafood, but also in renewable energy and water technologiesinformation and communications technologies, and the life sciences.  (The Whig)

Benjamin Netanyahu-Stephen Harper-free trade agreement

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the modernized CIFTA had the capacity to give Canadian industries greater visibility in Israeli markets.

CIFTA will help to “further strengthen Canada’s bilateral relationship with Israel,” which the July 21 press release calls “a priority market for Canada under the Global Markets Action Plan” trade strategy.

The July 21 announcement describes CIFTA as “the cornerstone of Canada’s commercial relationship with Israel,” a nation which Harper says “holds great potential for Canadian companies in a variety of sectors.  An expanded and modernized free trade agreement will lead to … an increase in jobs and opportunities for Canadians and Israelis alike.”

Following the announcement on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Harper, telling him: “Canada is one of Israel’s closest friends.  We deeply appreciate our extensive and deep cooperation with the Canadian government, which has flourished in recent years and of which the free trade agreement is but one example.  This expanded and modernized agreement will further energize the trade between our countries to the benefit of both our peoples.”

Since 1997, when the CIFTA first launched under Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, Israel and Canada’s trade activity has tripled, with last year seeing $1.6 billion in goods swap hands.

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