Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement Expansion

21 January 2014

The Government of Canada is committed to providing Canadian businesses with the tools they need to succeed and compete in the international economy. To this end, on January 21, 2014, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel, announced the launch of negotiations to expand and modernize the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA). The announcement was made during the Prime Minister’s first official visit to Israel. 

CIFTA is a cornerstone of Canada’s commercial relationship with Israel. The Agreement came into force on January 1, 1997, and amendments were brought into force on November 1, 2003, to implement further tariff concessions on agricultural and fish and seafood products. Since CIFTA came into force, Canada’s two-way merchandise trade with Israel has more than doubled.  

Canada will seek to modernize existing chapters in the Agreement in the areas of market access for goods, rules of origin, institutional provisions and dispute settlement. Canada will also seek to negotiate new chapters in the areas of trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade, intellectual property, e-commerce, labour and environment. 

An expanded and modernized CIFTA would benefit Canadian companies by: 

  • reducing technical barriers for trade;
  • enhancing cooperation;
  • increasing transparency in regulatory matters;
  • reducing transaction costs; and,
  • further enhancing Canada’s visibility in the Israeli market. 

This initiative will also create new opportunities for Canadian agriculture, agri-food, and fish and seafood companies in the Israeli market. 

In October 2011, the Government of Canada sought Canadian views on an expanded and modernized CIFTA via a Canada Gazette Notice. Our Government continues to welcome comments and questions from interested stakeholders. More information can be found on the consultations page of the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development website: 

Canada’s diversified bilateral trade with Israel reflects the sophistication of both economies. Israel is Canada’s 9th largest merchandise export market in the Middle East and North Africa. 

The Government’s recently announced Global Markets Action Plan identifies Israel as a priority market for Canada. In 2012, bilateral merchandise trade between the two countries was valued at $1.41 billion. Canada’s exports to Israel – valued at nearly $266 million in 2012 – consisted primarily of machinery, pharmaceutical products, precious metals and stones, sulphur and electrical and electronic machinery and equipment. Canada’s imports from Israel – valued at $1.14 billion in 2012 – consisted primarily of pharmaceutical products, electrical and electronic machinery and equipment, precious stones and metals, machinery and precision and scientific instruments. 

The pursuit of an expanded free trade agreement with Israel is part of the most ambitious pro-trade plan in Canadian history.  For instance, in 2006 Canada had free trade agreements with just five countries. As a result of actions taken by our Government, Canada will have concluded free trade agreement negotiations with 42 countries, once negotiations on a Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement are finalized.  

Also, in 2013, our Government concluded, signed or brought into force 10 foreign investment promotion and protection agreements (FIPPAs), including with Nigeria, Benin and Tanzania – more than any previous year.  In 2013, the government also concluded negotiations for new or expanded air transport agreements with 26 countries – a record number for one year – including with China, Japan, Senegal, Malaysia, Peru, Turkey, Pakistan and South Africa.