Israel is redirecting funds from trade missions in western Europe in favor of opening new vistas in the east, Economics Minister Naftali Bennett told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday from Indonesia, where he is participating in a World Trade Organization conference.
Bennett said Israel has closed Israeli trade representations in Finland and Sweden in order to have the funds to open new missions in the east. “At the end of the day I am diverting funds from western Europe to open trade missions in China, India and Hong Kong,” he said.
Bennett was the first Israeli minister in 13 years to visit Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country. Shimon Peres visited there briefly in 2000 as minister of regional cooperation.
Addressing the conference in Bali, Bennett said that “economic ties can create bridges for peace,” and that as Israel’s minister of economy, “I anxiously await the day I can sit down and sign free trade agreements with all of Israel’s neighbors as well as other Arab and Muslim states in the wider region.”
A number of Arab and Muslim delegates were in the plenum when Bennett spoke, and no one demonstratively walked out.
Bennett, who held talks in Bali with counterparts from Canada, Mexico, Vietnam, Russia and India, said “everyone is coming over to me here, saying we need your innovation, how do you inject that innovation into your economy? My point of view is that this is our core competency.”
Read more at The Jerusalem Post.