NEAR EAST REPORT AIPAC'S BIWEEKLY ON AMERICAN MIDDLE EAST POLICY

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Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, discussed the strength of U.S.-Israeli ties.
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Israeli Deputy FM Daniel Ayalon, NSC Mideast Director Dan Shapiro and U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro discussed how commerce can be a diplomatic tool.

U.S., Israel Mark 25 Years of Free Trade

To coincide with the 25th anniversary of the signing of the U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted the U.S.-Israel Business Initiative in Washington, D.C. The day-long conference focused on strengthening the partnership between the two countries and propelling the alliance into one of the world’s strongest high-tech commercial trading relationships.

“Trade and commerce are among the most overlooked and least understood aspects of the U.S.-Israel relationship,” said Myron Brilliant, senior vice president of International Affairs for the U.S. Chamber. “The American business community has a true partner in Israel and this Initiative will complement our already strong relationship.”

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and U.S. Ambassador to Israel James Cunningham joined their counterparts, Benjamin Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, Minister of Industry, Trade, and Labor and Michael Oren, Israeli Ambassador to the United States, to address top innovators and entrepreneurs from both countries about potential global investment opportunities, and provide guidance regarding the industries that will shape the future of the U.S.-Israel commercial alliance.

“The United States and Israel have some of the most creative and talented entrepreneurs on the planet,” Secretary Locke said. “And we’re filled with people who have that essential ingredient that every successful entrepreneur must have, it’s that spirit of risk-taking, of courage—whether you call it moxie or chutzpah, that animates entrepreneurs to achieve what few can only imagine.”

Amb. Cunningham also praised U.S. cooperation with Israel. “Both of our countries and our economies are winning from this relationship, and I believe we can do more,” he said.

Participants at the conference were treated to a number of informative panel discussions featuring entrepreneurs from the United States and Israel. On one panel, three experts discussed U.S.-Israel cooperation on clean energy technology—Mark Little, senior vice president and director of global research at General Electric; Booky Oren, chairman of Miya Arison Group and chairman of WATEC Israel; and Michael Granoff, head of public affairs at Project Better Place.

Binyamin Zomer, director of corporate affairs for Noble Energy in Israel, introduced the topic; Michael Makovsky, foreign policy director at the Bipartisan Policy Center, moderated the forum. (View the full schedule to learn more about the other panel discussions.)

The U.S.-Israel Business Initiative will build on the success of the United States-Israel FTA, signed in 1985. The agreement led to significant economic growth and, according to 2008 data from the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, $14.5 billion in U.S. exports, up 11.3 percent from the previous year. In 2007, U.S. foreign direct investment in Israel totaled $10.1 billion.

The event’s host, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations. BACK TO TOP