Israel and Australia sign memorandums of understandings, boosting economic ties

Netanyahu meets with PM Turnbull and Australian MP’s, signs agreements in trade, cyber security, agriculture and R&D; Netanyahu calls for “double and even triple” current bilateral trade agreements

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Prime Minister Netanyahu continues his tour in Australia, meeting on Thursday with Prime Minister Turnbull and New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian, signing memorandums of understanding and agreements in increasing bilateral relations and cooperation, particularly in the areas of security, cyber security, energy, agriculture and education.

The Prime Minister, who is on tour in Australia until Sunday, met with several Australian officials, from Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce to Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Prime Minister Netanyahu calling for Israel and Australia to “double and even triple” current bilateral trade agreements, which until now are estimated at $1.1 billion with Israeli exports to Australia at over $700 million.

In a meeting held with Prime Minister Turnbull and Members of Cabinet, agreements in increasing and financing joint industrial research and development (R&D) cooperation were signed, as well as memorandums of understandings. The meeting also centered on security, both military and cyber, as well as transport and innovation.

An agreement entitled “The Agreement on Bilateral Cooperation in Technological Innovation and Research and Development” was signed, guaranteeing strategic and strengthened economic ties between both states.

Addressing the boost in ties and their meeting, Prime Minister Turnbull stated “We’re here with our ministers to discuss the wide range of opportunities to cooperate on security, on innovation, cyber-security, defense, transport. We know that there are very great opportunities to do more, and we’ve talked about this already- in the area of cyberspace. We have a cyber-security strategy which we published last year. It is world-leading. We are very focused on it. We have some of the best technologies and the best brains in the world here, and we know you do in Israel and there are great opportunities to collaborate.”

On security and combatting radical Islam in the Middle East, he stated “we also have a very substantial commitment to the counter-ISIL [ISIS] coalition operating in Iraq and in Syria. We are in fact the largest international contributor to that coalition after the United States. So it’s a very substantial commitment and we recognize the importance of defeating Islamist terrorism in the Middle East and indeed around the world, for the safety of all of us.”

Addressing radical Islamic groups as a global threat, Turnbull stated “We should not allow the tyranny of distance in the 21st century. There is so much scope for cooperation,” adding that both Australia and Israel “have the same values: democracy, freedom and the rule of law,” as both states are actively “combatting the same enemies – terrorism, terrorists that seek to subvert those values and deny us our ability to live in a free society and we are both committed to the innovation which we know will drive the productivity…”

Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke after Turnbull, focusing on the common fight against terror and business and economic growth opportunities between both states.

Netanyahu stated that Australia and Israel hold “commonality of values and interests” which “has never been greater. The commonality of the values stretches for centuries and well into the next century. We are marking here the beginning of another 100 years of friendship.”

He described the commonality “of interest focuses on repelling the dangers but also seizing the opportunities” as well as technology. He stated “We are working with you, as with other like-minded states to prevent terrorist attacks that threaten our country and equally assure that this half century will be dominated by the forces of progress on freedom and not the forces of a renegade barbarism that seeks to use the weapons and the techniques of modern technology, to take us back to the dark ages. This is one of the great paradoxes. We have to fight the barbarians on the technological turf. It’s amazing.”

On R&D, trade and cooperation in the fields of technology and cyber security he stated “Equally I think the opportunities are vast and I want to start with something very simple and narrow. Not only technology, not only cyber cooperation, not only R&D but actually, trade. Our trade is a billion dollars. It should be at least double or triple that. I’d like to encourage the Australian and Israeli companies to increase in trade. If I did the schlep, they should do it too.”

He emphasized that first both states should “increase our trade, our bilateral trade, adding “Second thing is to see how Australia can be a gateway for Israeli companies and Israeli investments into Asia. And I think that is a very promising possibility.”