As you’ve read throughout 2016, the Chamber’s International Affairs Division has traveled the world – from Cuba to Europe to Saudi Arabia to West Africa – solidifying existing relationships between the U.S. business community and the public and private sectors of our partner nations.
Last month, I traveled to Israel to take the next step in advancing and strengthening our ties to America’s longest-standing partner in a free trade agreement. For 31 years now, the U.S. and Israel have cultivated a two-way trade relationship worth nearly $40 billion. When you have a connection that strong and vital to the benefit of U.S. businesses and American consumers, you do everything you can not only to maintain it but further it.
With that backdrop, the Chamber and Israel’s largest business federation, the Presidium of Israel Business Organizations (PIBO), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on June 7 with an eye toward offering businesses in both countries enhanced investment opportunities.
We’re specifically looking at increasing our work together on programs and initiatives across key sectors like energy, water, health, and cybersecurity. On the latter, my trip also afforded me the opportunity to partner with the American Chamber of Commerce in Israel (AmCham Israel) in hosting a cybersecurity roundtable. There, we led a discussion with private sector representatives on how the business community could come together to create a unified voice on cybersecurity public policy issues and development projects that contribute to greater business opportunities between American and Israeli companies related to cyber technology.
Throughout this roundtable and in our visit to CyberSpark in Beer-Sheva, Israel’s cyber capital, we focused on learning ways to collaborate in a manner that would expose American companies to Israel’s cyber ecosystem and promote cyber literacy.
Additionally, we met with a variety of ministries to invite them to the Chamber’s Water Policy and Technology Summit in Las Vegas on December 12. The summit will bring together government officials, business leaders, and other stakeholders for a high-level forum to identify the best public policies and technological solutions from the United States and Israel that address the growing global water crisis.
It’s been a busy stretch for the Chamber and our Israeli partners – we released a report in December with the Manufacturers Association of Israel laying out a policy for the future of U.S.-Israel cooperation on trade, investment and innovation. Now, following this trip and our MOU with PIBO, I’m more confident than ever in our ability to reduce barriers to trade and deepen U.S.-Israel business relationships, ensuring that America’s first bilateral free trade agreement remains the standard bearer it was when we signed it in 1985.