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Israel, China sign trade deal

Israel and China Sunday signed a cooperation agreement that aims to boost trade between the two countries.

The accord, signed with China's top economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, establishes an "important basis" for bilateral trade ties, Israeli Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Shalom Simhon said in an emailed statement.

In the short term, the agreement is expected to deepen ties between Israeli and Chinese businessmen, and in the medium-to-long term improve trade conditions between the countries, Eliran Elimelech, Israel's commercial attaché in Beijing, said in the statement. Following the signing, officials plan to map out joint projects in fields including biotechnology, agriculture and water technology, the statement said.

Israel is looking to Asia to increase trade as the U.S. and European Union struggle to recover from the global economic slowdown. Israeli exports to Asia expanded an annual 45 percent last year, almost double the growth in sales to Europe and quadruple those to the U.S., the Jerusalem-based Central Bureau of Statistics said in January. Exports to China grew an annual 95 percent in 2010 to $2 billion.

Exports make up about 40 percent of Israel's gross domestic product.-- Bloomberg News

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