The Israeli government is launching a major plan to boost economic and diplomatic ties and increase tourism in both directions between Israel and the countries of Latin America’s Pacific Alliance: Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Chile, and Peru. The government will also be expanding its embassies throughout the continent.
The Jerusalem Post reports that the three-year plan resolves to make Israel increasingly less dependent on the European Union for trade, and that similar programs in Asia are planned. This plan involves an NIS 50 million investment that would construct commercial attache offices in Chile and Perú, and expand Israel’s presence in the other Pacific Alliance countries.
Israel hopes its technology goods and tourism opportunities will attract trade from Latin America to Israel. The Prime Minister’s Office also announced that it was interested in providing its “expertise in infrastructures, agriculture and science” to Latin America. In addition to the trade initiatives, Israel is also reopening its embassy in Paraguay, which had been closed for years due to lack of funding (Israel still maintains diplomatic ties to the country).
“We are making a very concentrated and focused effort to vary our markets, from our previous dependence on the European market, to the growing Asian and Latin American markets, in which Israel needs to take a small market share and bring about growth, employment and social welfare in the State of Israel,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the program, calling it “a very promising effort.”
While the nations of the Pacific Alliance appear open to further trade with Israel, some Latin American countries government by far-left regimes have been less open to the proposals. Venezuela, for example, has been a longtime ally to Iran and has currently begun shipping oil to Palestine after a visit to Caracas from Mahmoud Abbas.
Currently, only one percent of Israel’s exports go to Latin America. Israel’s major trade partners include the United States and many European countries, prompting the initiative to diversify. As Xinhua notes, the European Union has discussed economic sanctions on Israel as a result of its settlements policy in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. In Asia, meanwhile, many have been optimistic in the potential of new India Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s desire to strengthen diplomatic ties with Israel. Netanyahu noted that Modi appeared to him to have given him “a clear expression of the desire to deepen and develop economic ties with the State of Israel.” In April, the Israeli Ministry of the Economy announced that Asia was set to overtake the United States as the nation’s greatest export destination this year.