Research partnership and more extensive free-trade agreements between Israel and Canada
In a sign of deepening relationships between Israel and Canada, the Chief Scientist of Israel’s Ministry of Economy announced investment in three new joint research projects in the field of energy together with Canadian partners.
The announcement came after the Canadian Department of Natural Resource Funding (NRCan) pledged $5 million a year until 2016 for the shared research costs. The agreements were made under the auspices of the Canada-Israel Industrial Research and Development Foundation, aimed at promoting collaborative research and development between private sector companies in both countries.
The three projects deal with unconventional sources of energy, and answer similar needs in the energy markets of the two countries. One project deals with enabling quick and accurate assessment of hydraulic fracturing projects, a potential source of energy in both Israel and in Canada. It will be carried out by Israel Energy Initiatives Ltd and the Canadian FG Partners Ltd. Another project looks into dealing with the highly saline waste products often associated with hydraulic fracturing, and ways of reducing potentially harmful environmental effects. It will be carried out by the Israeli RWL Water Nirosoft and the Canadian KmX Corporation. The last project looks into developing cost-effective and environmentally safe ways of extracting petroleum from bituminous sand. According to estimates, 97% of Canada's potential oil reserves are in bituminous sands.
The shared research echoes ever-closer ties between the governments of the two countries. Earlier this year, the Canadian Prime Minister and ministers in his government travelled to Israel and held several joint meetings in Jerusalem. In a press release, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the foreign ministers of the two countries, and promised to update the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA), which has been in place since 1997. In his own announcement, Canadian PM Stephen Harper also promised to expand CIFTA, promising it would create new opportunities for Canadian agriculture, agri-food, and fish and seafood companies in the Israeli market.
Israel has recently been marked as a priority market for Canada, and is included in the government's Global Markets Action Plan, released in November 2013. This document sets out plans for "vigorous trade promotion and ambitious trade policy." Bilateral merchandise trade between Canada and Israel in 2012 was valued at CA$1.41 billion.