U.S.-Israel Business Initiative Hosts Second Annual Meeting

December 4 – The U.S.-Israel Business Initiative hosted its Annual Meeting celebrating the 30th anniversary of the U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement and launched the U.S Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturers Association of Israel study: “Re-energizing the U.S.-Israel Economic and Commercial Relationship: A Policy Framework for Trade, Investment and Innovation.”  The study provides a plan that would address economic, innovation, and trade policy challenges in five key areas through 17 concrete policy recommendations.

“The U.S. and Israel have set the world standard for economic collaboration, and for the last 30 years we’ve seen entrepreneurs and innovators from both nations make tangible impacts to foster greater bilateral cooperation in key economic sectors,” said Myron Brilliant, the U.S. Chamber’s executive vice president and head of International Affairs.

Ambassador Michael Froman, United States Trade Representative, commended the strong ties between the U.S. and Israel, but also called for an upgrade to outdated trade and investment rules. Froman said our FTA contributed to eight-fold growth in trade in goods, contributing to both of our economies in dramatic ways, yet “our FTA has been bypassed by time,” citing the tremendous change in global business since 1985.  Froman pointed to several areas our countries could update our trade disciplines, including meaningful market access for agricultural products, the Israeli government’s adoption of international standards, and customs modernization.

blogg 1U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman (left) with U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President for Turkey and Middle East Affairs Khush Choksy

The event brought business executives, government representatives, and non-profit leaders together to discuss the U.S.-Israel commercial relationship, including issues around water technology, cybersecurity, and investment.

blogg 2Joshua Shani, CEO of Lockheed Martin Israel (left) ; Yossi Vardi, Investor ; Gabi             Siboni, Director at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS); Ann       Beauchesne, Senior Vice President of National Security & Emergency Preparedness at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (right)

Alejandro Mayorkas, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, announced that cyber officials from DHS would travel to Tel Aviv in January to meet with business executives. “Our vision for this trip … is to really make it not a government delegation to government delegation trip, but, rather, to make it a public-private partnership trip.” DHS and Israel’s National Cyber Bureau signed a joint statement reaffirming U.S.-Israel cooperation and information sharing on cybersecurity and research and development.

Naftali Bennett, Israel’s Minister of Education and former Minister of Economy, spoke about the entrepreneurial spirit of the Israeli business community and the government’s vision to promote inbound investment, in areas such as cybersecurity and biotechnology.  Bennett also spoke to Israel’s commitment to bridge the gaps in Israeli education to ensure that the next generation is equipped with the skills to harness Israel’s innovative competitive edge for years to come.

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                           Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett

Daniel Shapiro, U.S. Ambassador to Israel, said, “The [Chamber’s] report challenges the government to expand opportunity…we have only scratched the surface.”

More on the event can be found here:

Froman: U.S. Looking at Ways to Improve Israel Trade Deal


U.S. Trade Representative Calls on Israel to Ease Trade Rules


Top Obama Aide: US Firmly Opposed to BDS Movement


DHS Staffers to Israel


Israel Trade & Economic Office