Israel’s Economy and Industry Minister Nir Barkat and Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Yasutoshi Nishimura met in Tel Aviv on Monday and signed an economic and innovation agreement between their nations.
Nishimura brought a trade delegation of 80 Japanese company representatives as Tokyo and Jerusalem explored a possible free trade agreement that would expand their USD 3.3 billion commercial relationship.
“There’s vast potential for Japanese businesses to invest in Israel and enhance trade with one of the world’s leading economies. Our nations share deep-rooted historical and cultural ties, built on common values and innovative mindsets,” Barkat said.
“The persistent strengthening of our trade relations in recent years is a testament to the mutual commitment to pushing our economies forward. My ambition is to deepen the bond between Israel and Japan, recognizing the massive untapped potential, and I am keen on collaborating closely with Minister Nishimura to achieve this.”
Barkat also met with Japan’s digital transformation minister and finance minister, among other officials. Barkat and Nishimura addressed the annual JIIN (Japan Israel Innovation Network) conference.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed advancing bilateral relations with his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida this past February.
Jerusalem and Tokyo agreed in November to move toward signing a free trade agreement, which then-Prime Minister Yair Lapid said would entail “discounts for products and goods from Japan for the benefit of the Israeli market and increasing Israeli exports to Japan, the third-largest economy in the world.”
Israel’s primary exports to Japan are electrical equipment, chemical products, scientific and optical instruments and general machinery. Its primary imports from Japan are transportation machinery, general machinery, electrical equipment and chemical products.
Israeli free trade agreements with the United Arab Emirates and South Korea went into effect in 2023. In August, Israel signed a free trade agreement with Vietnam and launched negotiations with Moldova towards another.
Meanwhile, finalizing a free trade agreement with Bahrain is high on Foreign Minister Eli Cohen’s agenda as he visits Manama.
Israel and India are also in the process of expanding their current free trade pact.