Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on Tuesday the beginning of talks to expand on the Canada Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA), which was originally signed in January 1997.

“An expanded and modernized trade agreement with Israel will generate more jobs and economic growth at home and in Israel, while strengthening the close friendship that both countries enjoy,” Harper stated.

The announcement was in line with a pledge made in his historic Knesset speech the previous day, in which he said:

“There has…been a free trade agreement in place between Canada and Israel for many years an agreement that has already proved its worth. The elimination of tariffs on industrial products, and some foodstuffs, has led to a doubling in the value of trade between our countries. But this only scratches the surface of the economic potential of this relationship and I look forward to soon deepening and broadening our mutual trade and investment goals.”

Thus the Canadian leader not only delivered a heartwarming message of profound support for the State of Israel “through fire and water” in his Knesset speech; he also used his four days in the Jewish state to produce practical achievements for the benefit of both countries.

Negotiations between Ottawa and Jerusalem on CIFTA will be held in Israel from Feb.3-9.

“We will update the very successful Canada-Israel free trade agreement and adopt it to the changing realities of a global economy,” Netanyahu said. “Our respective transportation authorities will enhance their cooperation in protecting air transport; we have some interesting technological developments that we think could assist in that regard. And the government agencies that deal with international development will broaden their work together in the developing world. We have, I believe, a lot to gain from expanding cooperation in these and other areas. In fact, the sky’s the limit and it is so because Canada and Israel share, as you said yesterday, Stephen, a common set of values: democracy, liberty, justice, human rights and freedom. And Canada and Israel share a common set of interests: prosperity, free markets, technology – which is essential and coupled with freedom is extraordinarily potent – security, stability and peace. These common values and these common shared interests form the foundation of a special friendship and a unique partnership.”

Also, following a joint cabinet meeting chaired by Harper and Netanyahu, the Canada-Israel Strategic Partnership Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed, focusing on energy, security, international aid and development, as well as the promotion of human rights globally.

“Under the MOU,” according to a statement from the Canadian Prime Minister’s Office, “Canada and Israel agree to redouble efforts to advance common interests with a particular focus on promoting jobs, growth and economic prosperity in both countries. The Strategic Partnership touches on energy, security, international aid and development, innovation, and the promotion of human rights globally – areas where Canadian and Israeli expertise can be leveraged to improve lives both at home and around the world.”

By United with Israel Staff