Olmert in free-trade talks with Japan

Japanese officials have expressed interest in Israel's water and aerospace industries.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today met Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Akira Amari in an effort to reach a bilateral economic cooperation agreement that will include a free-trade agreement. Japan has free-trade agreements with only a few countries, including Singapore and Mexico, and is due to sign agreements with India and South Korea.

If an agreement is signed, it will include a range of goods involved in bilateral trade, and may enable less strict Japanese standards being applied to Israeli goods and also exempt Israel from agricultural quotas. Negotiations between Israel and Japan have not yet reached fruition, and the subject may arise in Olmert's talks with Japan's Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura tomorrow.

Olmert has already reached a number of understandings with Amari, including the establishment of a joint work group on R&D. Chief Scientist Dr. Eli Opper will go to Japan to promote this subject. Olmert and Amari also reached an agreement to collaborate in aerospace. Amari said that an Israeli delegation would be invited to participate in a conference on the subject scheduled for the end of the year.

At a meeting with Manufacturers Association president Shraga Brosh, Japan Business Federation Chairman Fujio Mitarai, and president of Canon, expressed great interest in Israel's high-tech industry and its auto industry, which numbers 150 companies. He was also interested in Israel's water technologies.

Brosh said, "Japan is currently Israel's 14th largest export partner, with $750 million in exports, and which has not grown in many years. The Manufacturers Association wants to double this figure within 3-5 years."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 26, 2008

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2008

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