Meadow Lake MLA Jeremy Harrison, the trade and export development minister, and deputy premier Gordon Wyant are off to Israel to conduct a week-long trade mission.
It will involve stops in both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, with meetings scheduled with government officials, private industry, and a number of Israeli academic and research organizations.
Harrison said the trip will give the delegation an opportunity to showcase the provinces’ agriculture and innovation within the sector. Recent changes to the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement, he believes, will lead to significantly increased trade between Saskatchewan and Israel, primarily in the agricultural and agricultural biotech spaces.
“We think there are significant synergistic opportunities both here in this province and in Israel,” Harrison said.
The minister maintained the importance of diversification in trading relationships with nations around the globe, noting the recent developments on the North American trade front, saying he was “thankful we have a resolution there.”
“We think the best way we are going to secure our markets into the future is direct engagement and it has been shown historically to be very much the case,” he added.
According to the province, the mission will aim to seek opportunities to increase trade, highlight investment opportunities in the province, and encourage Israeli companies to look to Saskatchewan as a place to establish a presence in North America.
Though Harrison made mention of many ways the province can be of benefit to Israel, said the country has much to offer in return, such as its momentum in innovation.
“We can learn a lot from how Israel has structured not just their academic institutions, but also some of their government policy to foster innovation in the technology spaces,” he said.
Harrison said the two jurisdictions have collaborated on innovation in the past, specifically in the agricultural biotech sphere. He said one of those partnerships involved institutions in Israel assisting a team at the University of Saskatchewan in mapping the wheat genome — described at the time as a critical step to help address food security concerns for millions of people.
“As we develop the (Protein Industries Canada) Supercluster in Saskatoon, having the experience some of the Israeli research institutions and innovations companies have in that space is only going to be helpful,” he said. “There are very real opportunities for that collaboration to happen.”
Last year, the province exported more than $19 million in goods to Israel. Over the last five years, the value of exports to the country has grown by 30 per cent, according to the province. Lentils are Saskatchewan’s top export to Israel, as well as chickpeas, canola seeds, peas and beans.
The delegation will be in Israel from Oct. 6 and return on the 13.
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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