JERUSALEM – On June 18, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jacob J. Lew and Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid attended the closing session of the U.S. - Israel Joint Economic Development Group - the annual senior-level economic policy dialogue between the two countries. In his remarks, Secretary Lew acknowledged the importance of the meeting to strengthening bilateral economic policy coordination and deepening our cooperation across a broad range of sectors. In his remarks, Secretary Lew said, "Often lost in the headlines of our important security cooperation and close political ties are other aspects of our relations with Israel that are equally important, including the extraordinary economic and commercial ties that create jobs and contribute to prosperity in both Israel and the United States." Minister Lapid said, "One of Israel's greatest assets is America's friendship. It is one of the main keys to our success, one of the main keys to our security."
This year's economic policy dialogue, which took place June 17 - 18 in Jerusalem, included the participation of 80 senior U.S. and Israeli economic policy officials who exchanged views on a wide range of topics including fiscal and monetary policy and macroeconomic outlooks, as well as innovation, research and development, trade and regional energy issues. U.S. and Israeli officials agreed to accelerate negotiation of a new agreement on trade in agricultural products, expand exchanges to build Israeli regulatory capacity in the natural gas sector, and increase coordination on regulatory standards to ensure that the highest quality products from each side have fair access to the other's market.
The two sides also agreed to begin discussions on an umbrella Science and Technology Agreement that will create new opportunities aimed at strengthening research and development collaboration. Discussions between the U.S. and Israeli officials also included ways to reduce the cost of living by making markets in both countries more open.
As a continuation of our ongoing coordination on cybersecurity issues, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology will participate in a workshop on June 19 with the Israel National Cyber Bureau on development of standards to reduce cybersecurity risks to critical infrastructure.
In addition to Secretary Lew and Minister Lapid, participation in this year's economic policy summit included Finance Ministry Director General Yael Andorn (Israel Chair), Dr. Karnit Flug, Governor of the Bank of Israel, Professor Eugene Kandel, Director of the National Economic Council and Avi Hasson, Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Economy. Professor David Gilo, Director of the Israel Anti-Trust Authority, Ohad Cohen, Head of the Foreign Trade Administration, and Yitzhak Ben-David, Deputy Director General from the Ministry of Agriculture also participated in addition to officials from the Israel Tax Authority, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Science, Technology and Space.
The U.S. delegation included Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Ambassador Charles Rivkin (US Co-Chair), Deputy Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Middle East and Africa Andrew Baukol (US Co-Chair), and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro as well as other officials from the Departments of State, Treasury, Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative, and the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv.
The U.S.-Israel Joint Economic Development Group, which has met since 1985, is the premier U.S.-Israel bilateral economic dialogue.