Last November, the Minister of Economy, Naftali Bennett, launched “Water City” – the flagship Israeli project in China, and announced the selection of the city of Shouguang in the Shandong province to be the Israeli “Water City” in China. The announcement was made during Minister Bennett’s visit to China and together with the Chinese authorities, with Israel’s Ambassador to China Matan Vilnai in attendance.
Minister Bennett arrived in China on Sunday November 23rd, heading a business delegation of 15 Israeli water companies, with the goal to advance the sale of Israeli water technologies in China. Following the announcement, Israeli companies met with their Chinese counterparts – all in all 180 meetings took place. The event also included an overview presentation on Israel’s water industry from Adi Yefet, head of the water arena at Israel NewTech.
The Minister’s visit is the culmination of a process that the Ministry of Economy and the economic attaches in China have been managing together with the Chinese authorities, geared to advancing Israeli water companies and implementating Israeli water technologies in China’s enormous water system. This system is facing numerous challenges due to the growing population and to the polluting of the country’s water resources, and so there is a “thirst” for Israeli solutions.
In the framework of the “Water City” project, Israeli water technologies will be implemented in the Shouguang for industrial use, and this will in effect be a living demonstration of the solutions offered by Israeli companies. The objective is to convince the Chinese authorities to adopt all or some of the solutions presented in the framework of the project in other cities in China.
Shouguang was chosen following a meticulous selection process which was managed by the Ministry of Economy and its Chinese counterpart, and will be able to take advantage of Israeli water solutions in the arenas of desalination, wastewater treatment, water reuse for agriculture, water supply and more.
This is a first of its kind initiative led by Israel NewTech, Israel’s national program for the advancement of the water industry in the Ministry of Economy. The program is also supported by the leading teams for the “Water City” project in Israel and China, which are responsible for the economic cooperation between the two countries. According to Oded Distel, Head of Israel NewTech, “There are 600 cities in China which urgently need the variety of solutions which are presented in ‘Water City’. The project is a great opportunity for Israeli companies to present the value of their solutions for other cities in China.”
During the announcement, Minister Bennett said: “Israel and China are natural partners for technological and business cooperation. We have rich experience in the water arena and the “Water City” project will help to open the Chinese market to Israeli water companies, and to advance bilateral relations between the two nations.”
The Minister’s visit will take place over five days during which he will lead the delegation in visits to Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing, where seminars and business meetings will take place between the Israeli companies and a wide variety of Chinese governmental and non-governmental representatives active in the water arena.
In addition, Minister Bennett will hold meetings with senior officials in the Chinese Ministry of Trade (MOFCOM), as well as with leaders of industry, including the CEO of Internet giant BAIDU, Robin Li, and VP of the industrial giant Suning. The objective of these meetings is to assist Israeli companies in cooperating with these huge companies, and to discuss with them the possibility of opening scouting and R&D centers in Israel.
The Minister is also expected to launch the Israel-China business center in Shanghai and, at the end of the busy trip, to launch the Israeli agricultural demonstration site in the Fujian province in southern China. This demonstration site was established with the financial initiative and support of the Ministry of Economy. The site brings together a number of Israeli companies which will use the site, where their solutions can be viewed, as a draw for potential customers from China and from throughout Asia.
Minister Bennett, Ambassador Vilnai and Chinese officials
According to the Israeli Foreign Trade Administration trade between Israel and China totaled $10.8B in 2013. Trade in 2014 is expected to increase by about 15%.