Economy Minister Orna Barbivai met virtually on Wednesday with her Australian counterpart Dan Tehan to examine the viability of a free trade agreement (FTA) between the countries and explore different ways and means to strengthen trade relations.
During their conversation, the two ministers agreed on kicking off preliminary talks as early as January, with a desire to create new initiatives that will serve as a lever for economic cooperation between the two countries.
The Ministry of Economy and Industry’s Foreign Trade Administration, entrusted with promoting and leading the processes for establishing Israel’s FTAs with countries and trade blocs the world over, estimates that such an agreement will increase Israeli exports to Australia and expand trade between the countries.
Foreign Trade Administration Director Ohad Cohen stated that “Australia is a significant market for Israeli exports. A free trade agreement — if signed — could help Israeli companies compete in the Australian market and strengthen business ties between companies and corporations in the two countries.”
Israeli export of goods and business services to Australia in 2020 amounted to about $736 million while imports amounted to about $325 million with a total volume of trade estimated at over $1 billion.
Israeli exports to Australia — chiefly consisting of consumer goods, software and high-tech technologies, and medical equipment — are five times higher compared to imports from down under to the Jewish state.
Most imports from Australia to Israel consist of agricultural produce.
The Foreign Trade Administration estimates that a significant portion of Israeli exports to Australia is made through third countries and that the volume of mutual trade between the two countries amounts to about $2 billion.
In the past year, a number of Israeli companies have won tenders on a significant scale in Australia, and Israel expects that these successes will be reflected in the coming years.
About 70% of Israel’s international trade takes place within the framework of FTAs.
Over the past decade, Jerusalem has signed or upgraded seven free trade agreements with countries such as South Korea, Colombia, Canada, and Ukraine, doubling the seven agreements that were in force in 2009.
In addition, Israel is currently holding negotiations with a variety of other markets such as China, Vietnam, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Guatemala.