By Sean Hackbarth
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Blog | March 3, 2015
View the original article.
Today, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to a joint session of Congress. As much as security and geopolitical relations are at the forefront of the U.S.-Israel relationship, don’t forget the economic ties between the two countries.
Myron Brilliant, executive vice president and head of International Affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, makes three observations about the U.S.-Israel economic relationship in this op-ed in The Hill.
1. Israel is the partner to the oldest U.S. free trade agreement—30 years.
Since the signing of the U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement 30 years ago, two-way trade has multiplied tenfold to over $40 billion per year with shared economic benefits for both countries.
2. Israel is a major U.S. economic partner in the Middle East.
Israel is the top importer of U.S. goods in its region, despite representing a mere 2 percent of the population. There are more companies listed on the NASDAQ exchange from Israel than from any country besides the U.S. and China. And nearly half of all investment into the U.S. from the Middle East comes from Israeli companies. The commercial relationship, while often glossed over given the focus on security matters, is not only sparking new technologies but supports thousands of good jobs in both countries.
3. Israel is an innovation hub.
In a country as small as Israel, it is amazing that over 250 multinational companies have R&D centers there. And underscoring the importance of our relationship, two-thirds of them are U.S. companies. Intel, Microsoft, IBM, and Cisco have been in Israel for decades, and just days ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook visited Israel to inaugurate the company’s largest innovation center outside of California.
Because of trade and innovation, future economic prospects between the U.S. and Israel are bright. Last year, in a piece on the maturing economic relationship between the two countries, the U.S. Chamber’s Josh Kram wrote, “Much of what will define the relationship in the coming five years was unthinkable a decade ago, let alone three decades ago when the FTA was signed.”
As public support for Israel remains strong, much will be gained for both countries—and the Middle East–as commercial ties deepen.