Jan. 4, 2015 (Xinhua) — Israel’s cabinet on Sunday approved a new plan to enhance economic ties with Japan, amid efforts to boost Israeli exports to Asian markets.
The plan, sponsored by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, constitutes an investment of “tens of millions of shekels over three years,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.
It did not elaborate on the cost of the plan, but said the government’s goal is to double exports of Israeli goods to Japan by 2020, so that exports would amount to approximately 1.1 billion U.S. dollars per year.
The plan includes opening a trade office in Osaka, in addition to another in Tokyo. Osaka is the largest city in Kansai, a region where many of Japan’s largest companies are located and has a gross domestic product (GDP) of about 1 trillion dollars.
The Ministry of Economy is to expand its chief scientist’s activity in Japan to aid Israeli high-tech companies in penetrating the Japanese market, with a focus on small-and medium-sized businesses.
“There is demand in Japan for Israeli technologies and know-how which have yet to realize their market potential in the following fields for example: pharmacology and medical equipment, cyber and information security,” was the cabinet statement.
The move is part of Israel’s efforts to strengthen its economic ties with Asian countries, mainly China and India, during the slowdown of European markets, its main export destination.
“Israel must interchange the markets where it is active,” Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office. “In the last two years, I have met with the leaders of China, Japan and India as part of a comprehensive policy of moving to major markets including Latin America and Africa,” he added.
The move comes as Japan, the third largest economy in the world, has hit a recession.
Israeli exports to Japan have stagnated in recent years and accounted for around 720 million dollars in 2013, whilst the relative size of exports of Israel’s overall exports has shrunk.
Currently, exports to Japan constitute just about 1.3 percent of overall Israeli commercial exports.