Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Israel to Open New Trade Offices to Boost Falling Exports

  • Israel to seek free trade pacts with Vietnam, China, India
  • Trade chief says Santiago, Lima, Nairobi trade offices planned

Israel will open new trade offices in developing countries and pursue new trade pacts in an effort to reverse the decline in exports that hampered growth last year, the country’s top foreign trade official said.

The government plans to open commercial offices in Santiago, Lima, Nairobi, and in western China, Ohad Cohen, head of the Economy Ministry’s Foreign Trade Administration, said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. It will also enter negotiations this year for free-trade accords with Vietnam and China, and look to continue talks with India, he said.

Trade offices in emerging markets have proven to be a reliable way to help companies boost sales, Cohen said. “In those countries where you have some kind of distance, whether cultural, language or geographical distance, our experience is that when you open an office, exporters benefit,” he said.

Israel’s economy expanded at its slowest pace in six years in 2015 as exports and investment declined. Exports, which account for about one-third of gross domestic produce, fell 3 percent.

Contributing to the decline were the weakening of the euro against the shekel and the decline in oil prices, which drove down revenue from chemical products produced in Israel, Cohen said. Weak growth in China and Europe’s failure to fully recover from the global financial crisis have also hurt Israeli exports, he said.

Technology exports were doing well, he said.

Israel also plans to open trade negotiations with the Eurasian Economic Union this year, which includes Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia, Cohen said at a Tel Aviv trade conference. It is already in talks with Ukraine, he said.

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