Sunday, December 7, 2014

Yes, the Pivot to Asia is a Success

The pivot to Asia is a great success. Trade with China and India has risen rapidly and relations keep improving. No, not the U.S. pivot, which is imaginary. Israel’s.

Elliott Abrams..
Pressure Points..
05 December '14..

The pivot to Asia is a great success. Trade with China and India has risen rapidly and relations keep improving.

No, not the U.S. pivot, which is imaginary. Israel’s.

Consider this report in The Diplomat:

A convergence of commercial interests have led the People’s Republic of China and the State of Israel to develop an increasingly integrated bilateral economic partnership that is poised to flourish over the next decade. Bilateral trade has experienced a 200-fold increase since diplomatic ties were formally established in 1992, surging from $50 million to $10 billion in 2013, with plans to double that figure in the next few years….

Increasingly, China has turned to Israel to acquire the technology necessary to maximize agricultural output and efficiency, as well as to develop a proficient water purification and reclamation apparatus that can sustain the Middle Kingdom’s urbanization and economic expansion throughout the 21st century. As a nation that boasts 22 percent of the global population, but just seven percent of the world’s arable land, developing a sustainable agriculture sector to efficiently maximize output remains a pressing concern for China…. To address this growing concern, China and Israel signed a deal worth $300 million in 2012 to export Israeli water technology that will improve agricultural efficiency in China.

A year after Mr. Netanyahu’s [2013] visit, Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong made a similar trip to Jerusalem in May 2014 with nearly 400 Chinese government and business officials to forge new avenues of economic collaboration. One of the hallmarks of the trip was the signing of a bilateral agreement between Tel Aviv University (TAU) and Tsinghua University in Beijing to jointly invest $300 million to establish the XIN Center for scientific exchange and collaboration. According to officials from TAU, the center will “pursue strategic cooperation in research and teaching and serve as an international hub for scientific and technical innovation” while focusing on research and development projects in a variety of sectors including sustainable agriculture, solar power, water reclamation, and biotechnology.

First thing to notice is the numbers. But the second thing is that this isn’t a weapons sales relationship; it is more broadly based, with a special focus on agriculture.

Israel is also building its economic ties to India. Trade is now over $4 billion, and mostly weaponry: India is now the largest purchaser of Israeli arms. But that may change: Reuters reports that “Israel Ports Co. is partnering India’s Cargo Motors to build a deepwater port in Gujarat, and Israel’s TowerJazz is teaming up with India’s Jaiprakash Associates and IBM with plans to build a $5.6 billion chip plant near Delhi.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Prime Minister Modi at the UN in September. Modi visited Israel when he was chief minister of Gujarat and appears to harbor none of the traditional Indian hostility towards that country. And as the Jerusalem Post reported, “Modi’s appointment of Sushma Swaraj as foreign minister was a welcome sign, since she served from 2006 to 2009 as chairwoman of the Indo-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group, and visited the country in 2008.” The two countries are negotiating a free trade agreement.

It’s fashionable to say that Israel is increasingly isolated in the world, and people point to resolutions like the one in Sweden “recognizing a Palestinian state” that are passing European parliaments. The EU is Israel’s largest trading partner and it would be a serious problem for Israel if the larger economies–Germany, France, the UK–began to cut commercial ties. But that is not happening yet, and these resolutions are either less than meets the eye (the Spanish resolution calls for recognizing a Palestinian state only when it emerges from bilateral negotiations) or in countries of much less economic significance. In any event, a country whose trade with India and China is growing by leaps and bounds is hard to call “isolated.”


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1 comment:

  1. Here is one reason for the efflorescence: Israel's success in sustaining large population density in a semi-arid region.

    Population density, Israel (2011): approx. 365/km2; China: 141.79 (Dec. 2014), India: 384.39 (Dec. 2014)