Israel expects better trade ties with China under BRI: Israeli official

Israel is expecting better and deeper economic and trade ties with China as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is pushed forward, said a high-ranking Israeli official.

The BRI is a long-run vision and a "positive" initiative, said Hagai Shagrir, Head of Asia and Pacific Bureau of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, in a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua.

Shagrir believed that this initiative is able to contribute to better infrastructure for countries involved, saying this is the reason why Israel decided to join in the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank as a founding member.

With the development of the BRI, more Chinese companies have entered the Israeli market and at the same time more Israeli companies, especially hi-tech ones, have joined hands with Chinese partners, he said.

Shagrir told Xinhua that he had visited some infrastructure projects in Israel being built by Chinese companies. "Chinese companies are doing good and professional work. Our overall experience with them is very positive."

Meanwhile, Shagrir said Israel is also trying to see where Israel can contribute to the development of the BRI and look for more economic opportunities created by the initiative through joining in projects and providing solutions that Israel is good at like water technology and agriculture.

"We would like to work together with the Chinese side," he added.

Israel is giving agriculture training in Beijing for China and some other countries involved in the initiative. Shagrir believed this is a very positive contribution by Israel.

With regard to China's opening-up efforts, Shagrir hailed China's decision to open its market wider to the world and open more sectors of Chinese economy to foreign investment.

"This is a very important and positive message to the whole world as well as Israel. It contributes to a better economic exchange between China and the world, and also between China and Israel," he said.

As for the relations between China and Israel in recent years, especially after the innovative comprehensive partnership was established in March 2017, Shagrir said a "very positive and good" momentum in China-Israel relations was seen and Chinese growing economic market was "very important" to Israel.

During the past over 20 years, Shagrir witnessed the enormous changes that China has made.

As early as in 1991 when he was a young student, Shagrir travelled as a backpacker in China. He has worked as the current position since September 2016. Before that, Shagrir worked in two Israeli consulates respectively in Guangzhou, capital city of south China's Guangdong province, and Chengdu, capital city of southwest China's Sichuan province. At present, Shagrir visits China on business for three or four times a year.

"I highly appreciate the unbelievable economic and social development of China during this period of time. China's contribution to the world and role in the world is undisputed," he said.

There is a "quite positive" bilateral trade between China and Israel, he believed.

According to Shagrir, Israel's exports to China reached about 5 billion U.S. dollars in 2018, while China's exports to Israel hit 7 billion U.S. dollars.

He is sure that with the good government-to-government platform, more trade, investment from both sides, better cooperation in tech, water, agriculture and health sectors, as well as more academic exchanges could be seen in the next few years.

Editor: 曹家宁