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Negotiators began a round of talks less than two weeks after Canada and Israel announced that they would modernize their free trade agreement (CIFTA).
The decision to update the agreement was announced on January 21, during a trip to Israel by the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Canada's Free Trade Minister, Ed Fast, said of the initiative: "Launching these negotiations so quickly after the Prime Minister's historic visit is clear proof that we want to continue to strengthen the Canada-Israel trade and investment relationship to the benefit of Canadians and Israelis alike."
"An expanded and modernized CIFTA will create new jobs and opportunities for Canadians by improving access to the Israeli market for Canadian producers, manufacturers, and exporters."
Israel has been identified as a priority market for Canada. To this end, it is included in the Government's Global Markets Action Plan, released in November. This document sets out plans for "vigorous trade promotion and ambitious trade policy."
Bilateral merchandise trade has more than doubled since the original CIFTA entered into force in 1997. It hit CAD1.41bn (USD1.27bn) in 2012.
The aim is to improve its chapters on market access for goods and rules of origin, along with its institutional provisions and dispute settlement rules. Canada will press for new chapters on trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, intellectual property, e-commerce, labor, and the environment.
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