Greece and Israel plan to triple value of bilateral trade transactions to 1.0 billion euros

Greece and Israel plan to more than triple the value of bilateral trade transactions to 1.0 billion euros in the coming years, from 300 million euros currently, focusing on the sectors of pharmaceuticals, agro-food products and high technology products, including software. The two countries will also seek to raise Israeli investments in Greece in the fields of pharmaceuticals, fertilizers and tourism and further boosting real estate as several Israeli citizens are buying houses in Greece taking advantage of the Golden Visa Program offered by the Greek state.

All these issues were discussed during a meeting between the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accompanied by related government ministers, in the framework of the 3rd Greece-Israel partnership summit, which clarified the nature of corporate relation built by the two countries in the region through synergies and partnerships.

Netanyahu stressed that Israel considered itself to be the Silicon Valley outside the US and urged Greece to cooperate in this field with Israel which has established a strong culture of startups. He noted that the Israeli Innovation Agency will cooperate with Greek authorities.

The Israeli side expressed its confidence that the East Med pipeline project -designed to transfer natural gas from Israel’s giant fields to Europe via Cyprus and Greece (with an expected capacity of up to 16 billion cubic meters of gas annually)- was not only viable but questions were raised whether the pipeline would be able to adequately serve the natural gas field, or additional infrastructure would be needed. The Israeli side confirmed that the European Commission has expressed interest in the project.

On the EuroAsia Interconnector, a 3.0-billion-euro cable connecting the electricity grids of Greece, Cyprus and Israel, the Greek side reiterated its proposal to accept both the cable and fiber optic with an additonal cost of 10 pct in order to safeguard benefits in the telecommunications sector. All parties were discussing a plan to integrate the fiber optic in the East Med pipeline. The project has secured funding worth 1.5 billion euros from the European Union, it was in a mature stage and needed to proceed to the stage of forming consortiums of investors, well informed sources said.

In the field of digital policy, the two countries discussed development of bilateral cooperation in public and open data, Internet of Things and 5G networks for mobile telephony, creating fiber optic networks, promoting partnerships between cities and municipalities in smart city applications and exchange of post-graduate students.

The two delegations also discussed environmental issues mostly small transferred desalination units and a joint project to abolish the use of plastic bags.