Canada, Israel Sign Cooperation Deal to Strengthen Energy Ties
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver speaks to press from Haifa during visit
Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, currently in Israel for an economic and commercial mission to promote increased trade and investment between Canada and Israel in the energy sector, signed an agreement on Tuesday to advance energy cooperation between the two countries.
According to a statement from Oliver’s office, the agreement, signed in Tel Aviv, aims to strengthen already solid ties and increase bilateral relations on offshore development, resource reserves, new sources of oil and gas supplies, and renewable energy.
The agreement, co-signed by Israel’s Minister of Energy and Water Resources Dr. Uzi Landau who met with Oliver earlier this week, includes commitments by both sides to share policy expertise in energy management and promote industrial cooperation as well as collaboration in various innovation opportunities.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) applauded Oliver and the Canadian government for “launching an initiative that will only enhance Canada’s position as a world leader in energy,” the organization stated in a press release.
“With the recent discovery of oil and natural gas in Israel, this agreement provides an opportunity to leverage Canadian expertise for the goal of Israeli energy independence. For Canada, it offers greater access to a burgeoning marketplace of both customers and innovators – both crucial for creating Canadian jobs in a fragile global economy,” said CIJA Chair David Koschitzky.
Oliver, who arrived in Israel last Friday to meet with senior Israeli government officials and energy industry executives over the week before a scheduled return to Canada this Saturday, spoke to the Canadian media from Haifa on Thursday via a teleconference.
“This agreement will advance Canada’s energy interests and contribute jobs, growth and economic prosperity,” Oliver said from Israel. “Canada offers Israel expertise and experience in offshore drilling, extraction of unconventional oil and gas and natural resource regulation.”
Oliver said that he plans to ensure that Landau visits Canada, possibly as soon as this fall, for he and his delegation to meet with Canadian trade officials, financial advisors, energy service companies, academic institutions and regulatory experts. The meeting would contribute to further collaboration as part of the new agreement.
One of the other Israeli government officials with whom Oliver met during the week was Shalom Simhon, Israel’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Labour. During the meeting, Oliver witnessed a signing of a mutual recognition agreement on telecommunications between the two countries, which both officials described as “a good model” that could be applied to future agreements.
Oliver noted that 16 years ago, Israel became Canada’s first free trading partner outside its own hemisphere and since then, two-way merchandise trade between the two countries has more than doubled to $1.4 billion and continues to grow both in services and investment.
Canadian companies such as Bombardier, Air Canada and Super-Pharm have already established a strong presence in Israel just as Israeli investors such as Teva Pharmaceuticals, Ormat and Amdocs have developed their own solid connections in Canada, the minister noted.
“As I said in my remarks to business roundtable earlier this week, Canada and Israel are linked by friendship and kinship, and now more than ever by commerce,” said Oliver. “There is very serious untapped potential in our relationship. I came here to focus particularly on opportunities in the energy sector.”
Earlier in the day, Oliver met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom he discussed a range of issues relating to the diplomatic and commercial relationship between Canada and Israel. Netanyahu made a point of expressing his appreciation for Canada’s unwavering support of Israel in its unrelenting battle against international terrorism, Oliver said.
Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver (left) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) on Thursday. Photo: Canadian Ministry of Natural Resources
But despite the firm support of Israel that Canada has shown over the years, especially since the Harper government came to power in 2006, Oliver said that the commercial mission was purely based on establishing business ties, without using any “special advantage” that Canada may have.
“We’re proceeding on a business-like basis and that was the tone of my discussion with the Prime Minister and with the two ministers. The fact that we a have a really solid diplomatic relationship, the fact that Israelis hold Canada in high regard can facilitate that because we’re a friendly country that has expertise and want to do business with them,” said Oliver.