The international activity in the various agricultural fields is an important component of Israel’s agriculture. The foreign trade center at the Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for advancing and managing foreign trade of fresh and processed agricultural produce, formation of the agricultural chapters in multilateral and bilateral trade agreements and management of the Ministry of Agriculture’s network of foreign relations.
Stimulating Agricultural Exports
Agricultural exports (fresh and processed) stood at a value of about 2.2 billion dollars in 2016, of which the 2016 value of the fresh produce exports stood at about 1.3 billion dollars. The bulk of the agricultural export is destined for Western Europe (53% of the total agricultural export in 2016 was sent to the European Union countries) and in recent years the foreign trade center has been working to diversify the traditional export markets and to open new ones, especially in north America, Asia, and Russia. As a part of the export stimulation activity, special emphasis is being placed on the quality and variety of the produce and on finding new niches.
Import Policy on Fresh and Processed Produce
The policy on importing fresh and processed agricultural produce to Israel is intended to serve several policy purposes, including protection of Israeli agriculture, a supply of fresh produce at reasonable retail prices and implementation of trade agreements. Among the Import department’s responsibilities is the allocation of the import quotas to which the State of Israel has committed as a part of its trade agreements and allocation of quotas during shortage periods.
The International Trade Agreements
Israel’s trade agreements with other countries are the basis and incentive for increasing exports. Within these agreements Israel maintains a dialog with its trading partners to simplify the trade and assist exporters when they encounter trade barriers. This is a part of the set of measures intended to settle the trade terms with the State of Israel’s trading partners. Countries and blocs with which Israel has bilateral trade agreements: United States
, the European Union
(Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), Canada
, the Mercosur bloc
(Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay), Turkey
. Negotiations are underway at different stages for signing agreements with India, China, Ukraine, Panama, Vietnam, and South Korea. The foreign trade center at the Ministry of Agriculture works together with the Foreign Trade Administration and the Ministry of Economy. It handles all of the agriculture aspects of these agreements.
The foreign relations unit is in charge of the international activities of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The activity is focused on several main areas, which include development of professional relations with ministries of agriculture and public organizations around the world, preparation of international agreements, exchange visit programs, international exhibitions and seminars and publication of material in foreign languages. The department liaises between professional entities in the fields of agriculture and rural development all over the world and all of the units within the Ministry.
Additionally, the unit maintains ongoing working relations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Economics and Industry, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, embassies, the Export Institute and the Israel chamber of commerce and the bilateral chambers of commerce.