Israel’s Minister of Industry Trade and Labor, Shalom Simhon, signed a cooperation agreement yesterday in Jerusalem with China’s National Reform and Development Commission (NDRC) to boost bilateral trade, Bloomberg reported. Israeli companies such as Bank Hapoalim and Nice Systems are publicly seeking to expand their business in China to offset weak demand in North American and European markets. The countries will meet to plan joint projects in biotechnology, agriculture and water technology, according to a statement issued by the NDRC. According to Israeli statistics, the country’s exports to Asia increased by 45% last year, double the growth in its exports to Europe and quadruple that to the US. Exports to China grew 95% in 2010 and reached a value of US$2 billion. Exports make up 40% of Israel’s GDP. Israel’s ministry of trade is exploring a free-trade agreement with China and has established a US$30 million fund to finance Israeli companies seeking to trade in China and India.