The U.S. Chamber’s U.S.-Israel Business Initiative, in collaboration with the Greater Houston Partnership, hosted a roundtable for business leaders in Houston with Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer.
This forum is part of the Chamber’s increased emphasis on working outside of Washington to educate the business community on the benefits of engaging with the Israeli market.
“Israel’s economy is undergoing a huge transformation,” said Ambassador Dermer, pointing to government efforts to transition Israel towards a more market-based economy in recent decades. These market-driven reforms, including relaxing currency controls and privatizing portions of the Israeli economy, have been made with the objective of fully unleashing Israeli brainpower.
“A country’s ability to innovate will drive growth,” said Dermer, who predicted that in the coming decades Israel would become one of the wealthiest countries in the world, as measured by GDP per capita.
Dermer said Israel’s two most promising sectors are cyber security and the oil & gas industry.
“Israel is ‘a China’ when it comes to cyber investment,” said Dermer, who added that 11% of all global cyber investments are being made in Israel. Dermer was also bullish on the Israeli private sector’s ability to create innovative solutions for the oil & gas sector.
Houston’s role as the leading hub for the oil & gas sector is especially relevant for Israel, given the recent discovery of natural gas in its coastal waters. Noble Energy, which sponsored the event, is the leading American investor developing the Tamar and Leviathan fields in the Eastern Mediterranean Basin.
“It is critical that the chamber help showcase the business opportunities in Israel outside of Washington, and this forum will be just the beginning of a new effort to reach more broadly to business leaders around the United States,” said Khush Choksy, Vice President for Turkey and Middle East Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.