Economy and Tourism
- Written by Ministry of Economy
TRADE BETWEEN ISRAEL AND JAPAN REACHES $2.3 BILLION IN 2014
Talks between Economy Ministries of Both Countries to Take Place in Tokyo this Week to Strengthen Trade Ties and Foster Export Activity
[Tokyo. Jerusalem. July 28th, 2015] – The first economic talks of their kind will take place between the Ministries of Economy of Israel and Japan (METI) in Tokyo this week. Ohad Cohen, Head of the Foreign Trade Administration (FTA) in the Israeli Ministry of Economy will lead the talks along with his Japanese counterpart, Mr. Hideo Suzuki. The talks are part of Israeli government efforts to strengthen economic ties with Japan.
During the talks, topics related to Japanese imports and exports will be discussed, as will cooperation between the two ministries towards promoting exports and foreign investment. The FTA aims at holding such talks annually to help find specific solutions to obstacles facing Israeli and Japanese businesspeople and to work together with the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to strengthen commercial ties.
Israeli Minister of Economy Aryeh Machluf Deri: “We see great importance in the Japanese market, one of the world’s largest economies, and we believe that this meeting will help Israeli exporters operate in this large, important market. The Ministry of Economy is working towards strengthening cooperation with Japan and increasing our exports to the country, and accordingly we will launch a targeted aid program in this area.”
Ohad Cohen, Head of the Foreign Trade Administration in the Israeli Ministry of Economy: “The Japanese economy and society have been undergoing a unique process of change and openness, which presents a golden opportunity for Israel – as a source of knowledge and global exporter of advanced technology – to increase cooperation and tighten economic relations with this country.”
Noa Asher, Head of Israeli Economic and Trade Mission to Japan: “Following years of efforts on the Israeli side to promote these talks, one of the reasons for the dialogue at this time is the tightening relations between Israel and Japan. This is due, amongst other things, to the mutual visits of the Prime Ministers of Israel and Japan in May, 2014 and January, 2015, together with high-ranking business delegations. This dialogue and the expected results will strengthen economic cooperation between Israel and Japan in the future.”
According to the Foreign Trade Administration in the Israeli Ministry of Economy, total trade between Israel and Japan stood at $2.3 billion in 2014, with exports to Japan reaching $800 million and imports $1.5 billion.
- Written by Ministry of Economy
New NIS 5 Million Program to Aid Development of Social Enterprises Employing Target Populations
Program will be operated by the Small and Medium Business Agency in the Ministry of Economy
Will aid the development of social enterprises that employ people with disabilities, youth-at-risk and others, by contributing to their salaries up to NIS 200,000 per company
Minimum pre-condition for aid: At least 20% of employees belong to prioritized population sectors, or 30% for smaller businesses
Jerusalem, July 9, 2015 – The Small and Medium Business Agency at the Ministry of Economy is launching a pilot program to help social enterprises cope with the high costs involved in employing prioritized populations. The program aid will be given as participation in the costs borne by the company to employ workers from prioritized populations, for employment advancement. For 2015, the program budget is NIS 5 million.
The employees at the social enterprise will be directly employed by the company. The aid will be given to social enterprises as participation in the salaries of the qualifying employees, up to a fixed ceiling of NIS 200,000 per business per year, in accordance with the following participation rates: during the first year, 50% of salaries for qualifying employees; during the second year of participation in the program, a sum equal to 40% of the actual salaries of qualifying employees.
Minister of Economy Aryeh Deri: “Disadvantaged populations must be integrated into the economy and society. Today, the most disadvantaged people must struggle twice – first with their problematic point of departure, and then with being stigmatized by society. I have made the commitment to concern myself with them, and that means not only cutting prices or increasing benefits, but also properly integrating them into the labor market. I have good news for social enterprises that are not only looking at company profits but also at their contribution to the community and Israeli society as a whole. As part of the program, social enterprises that employ at least 5 employees from the prioritized population may submit a request and possibly receive government participation in funding the salaries of employees from prioritized populations, up to a ceiling of NIS 200,000 per business per year.”
Director of the Small and Medium Business Agency Ran Kiviti: A ‘social enterprise’ is any business with activity focusing on commercial activity, whether in an NPO or a company for public benefit working to advance and realize social goals, and commercial companies with activity directed at realizing social goals with activity to realize social goals or employ prioritized populations, such as people with disabilities and youth-at-risk.
The program is based on decisions made by the economic round table, headed by the prime minister, and withthe participation of the business and third sectors.
So which businesses fit the program?
1. A company that has been employing 5 workers from prioritized populations for at least a year, with a minimal number of weekly hours.
2. A company with up to 51 employees – with at least 30% of its workers meeting the definition of “prioritized populations”.
3. A company employing from 51-100 employees – with at least 25% of its workers from prioritized populations.
4. A company employing over 100 employees – with at least 20% of its workers from prioritized populations (if its annual business cycle is up to NIS 100 million).
- Written by Economy Ministry
MINISTRY OF ECONOMY SIGNS COOPERATION AGREEMENT WITH LATIN AMERICA'S INTER-AMERICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK
Chief Scientist at the Israeli Ministry of Economy, Avi Hasson, signed a cooperation agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) - the largest investment authority in Latin America and the Caribbean Islands * The bank funds projects in Latin American and Caribbean countries at an annual rate of $12 billion * The agreement will open new business opportunities for Israeli companies in Latin America
Israeli Minister of Economy Aryeh Deri: "Diversifying destination markets is a national endeavor for the State of Israel. In the world of new developing markets it is crucial for Israel to succeed. The agreement is an important step for promoting economic relations, for opening new business opportunities and for increasing Israeli exports. The State of Israel must diversify its export destinations and economic activity all around the world."
Avi Hasson, Chief Scientist at the Israeli Ministry of Economy: "The Chief Scientist's activity in the area focuses on creating opportunities to effectively commercialize innovative solutions adapted to Latin American markets. Implementing the agreement will give Israeli companies access to partners in R&D and trade in the region."
JERUSALEM – 29th June 2015. Chief Scientist at the Israeli Ministry of Economy Avi Hasson signed a cooperation agreement with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) recently. The agreement will open new business opportunities for Israeli companies in Latin America.
The Inter-American Development Bank is the largest investment authority in Latin America and the Caribbean Islands. There are 48 member states in the bank, including Israel. The bank funds projects in Latin America and the Caribbean Islands to the tune of $12 billion annually.
The agreement was signed in line with the government's policy to strengthen trade relations with Latin American countries. The government authorized the Chief Scientist to sign the agreement with IDB, realizing that this institution will open opportunities for Israeli companies on the continent.
Several weeks ago the Office of the Chief Scientist at the Israeli Ministry of Economy, MATIMOP (the international branch of the Office of the Chief Scientist on R&D) and the Foreign Trade Administration hosted a delegation of senior officials from the bank, who made a first visit to Israel to discuss with the chief scientist opportunities for involving Israeli companies in projects funded by the bank.
Among the concepts discussed: Establishing a joint $5 million fund for subsidizing innovative projects involving Israeli companies in Latin America, assistance from the bank in making Israeli technologies accessible to organizations in Latin American countries, helping Israeli companies get involved in development programs that are funded by the bank and funding industrial R&D cooperation with a joint budget from the bank and the Latin American countries with which the Chief Scientist has signed bilateral agreements.
The new agreement constitutes a significant step toward upgrading the Chief Scientist at MATIMOP's activity in the Americas, a process which started two years ago. Cooperation programs with the Americas are run with the assistance and coordination of the Foreign Trade Administration at the Israeli Ministry of Economy, the trade attachés in Latin American countries, the Foreign Ministry and embassies, and of course, local partners in the various countries in which activities take place.
The Chief Scientist at the Israeli Ministry of Economy has recently announced that a program for subsidizing the adaptation of products to all Latin American countries will be expanded; the program gives Israeli companies the possibility to receive grants from the Chief Scientist for the purpose of adapting existing products to the demands of the Latin American market (including establishing pilot programs, adaptation to local regulations, reducing manufacturing costs etc.)
Israeli Ministry of Economy data shows that Israeli exports to Latin America in 2014 stood at $2.53 billion (excluding diamonds). The field of machines and mechanical devices was leading the export branch with 39.7% of all exports, followed by chemicals (20.1%), then plastics and rubber (6.3%). Brazil is Israel's main export destination in Latin America: In 2014 exports reached $915 million, totaling 36.1% of all Israeli exports to this region. Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia and Chile are the next most significant export destinations after Brazil.
Israel's network of trade agreements with Latin America
Israel's trade agreement with countries which are members of the South American joint market (Mercosur) went into effect on June 1 2010 (Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay), and on September 9 2011 with Argentina. Israel is the only country outside Latin America that enjoys a free trade agreement with Mercosur states. Since the agreement became effective, two conferences took place where senior officials from both sides participated and discussed increasing trade. Another conference is expected this year.
On July 1 2000 a free trade agreement between Israel and Mexico entered into effect. The agreement promises fair competition for Israeli exporters, mainly against competing exporters from the US, who enjoy free access to the Mexican market due to the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement, involving the US, Canada and Mexico).
Inter alia, the agreement between Israel and Mexico regulates competition and the rules for resolving disputes. A joint commission was established to oversee the implementation and promotion of the agreement and joint committees of experts were established on source regulations, customs procedures and other issues pertaining to bilateral trade. A joint conference is expected to take place this year.
Negotiations between Israel and Colombia on free bilateral trade were concluded in September 2013 and confirmed shortly thereafter by the Israeli government. An agreement is now pending approval by the Colombian government and will then enter into effect.
A negotiation on free trade between the two countries is currently underway. In July, the third round of talks is expected to take place in Israel. Another fourth round will take place before the agreement is finalized.
- Written by Ministry of Economy
ECONOMY MINISTER AND CHINESE AMBASSADOR MEET TO DISCUSS ISRAELI-CHINESE FREE TRADE ZONE
[JERUSALEM – 7th July 2015] Economy Minister and Negev and Galilee Development Minister Aryeh Machluf Deri met yesterday (Monday, 6 July 2015), for the first time, in his Jerusalem office, with Chinese Ambassador to Israel Zhan Yongxin. The two discussed - inter alia - the establishment of a free trade zone between Israel and China.
Minister Deri stressed Israel's desire to establish such a zone. The Chinese Ambassador reiterated China's commitment to begin negotiations for an agreement, as first announced by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang in March in his report to the National People's Congress.
Both sides stressed their mutual desire to strengthen ties and expand Chinese investments in Israel, which have thus far reached $6 billion. They also agreed that a free trade zone agreement would raise bilateral ties to a new level and bring real economic benefit to both sides.
Minister Deri said, "The Israeli Ministry of Economy concentrates efforts to promote and expand the trade ties between the two countries and to this end operates various tools to support Israeli companies doing business in China, such as dedicated funds for projects in the People's Republic of China, supporting incoming and outgoing delegations and of course, our trade attachés posted across China."
The Economy Ministry Foreign Trade Administration, which is expected to lead the negotiations for a free trade zone agreement with China, is making preparations for the talks and is consulting trade and industry officials regarding Israel's specific interests in the negotiations.
The Foreign Trade Administration operates five trade attachés across China - two in Beijing - including one who focuses on policy and regulation, one in Guangzhou, one in Shanghai and one in Hong Kong. This number is identical to the number of attachés in the United States and the goal is to continue expanding the distribution of trade missions in China.
Photo : Chinese Ambassador to Israel Zhan Yongxin . Photo provided by Ministry of Economy
- Written by Ministry of Economy
ISRAEL, PANAMA MEET FOR SECOND ROUND OF NEGOTIATIONS ON FREE TRADE AGREEMENT
Negotiations Get into High Gear as Israeli Delegation Arrives in Panama
JERUSALEM – March 3rd, 2015 -- A 12-strong Israeli delegation headed by Ministry of Economy officials and comprised of professional staff from relevant government ministries are in Panama City to participate in a second round of negotiations for a free trade agreement between Israel and the Republic of Panama. The negotiations are part of the Foreign Trade Administration at the Ministry of Economy's policy of expanding Israeli exports to new markets, and the Israeli government's policy of strengthening relations with Latin American countries.
The agreement is expected to serve as another springboard for Israeli service providers - especially in software, communication, information security, engineering and R&D - thus expanding the potential of this and related markets.
The second round of talks began Monday in Panama City and will last four days. Twelve working groups are expected to discuss the following subjects: access to markets, customs, services and investments, intellectual property, protection of flora and fauna and veterinary aspects, trade obstacles, institutional issues and conflict resolution. Two more rounds of talks are expected before the negotiations are completed.
Head of the Foreign Trade Administration in the Israel Ministry of Economy Ohad Cohen said: "The Israeli Ministry of Economy continues to strengthen Israel's economic ties with countries around the world with an emphasis on developing economies with great potential for growth. In this case, we are expanding Israel's economic footprint in Latin America, in accordance with our policy of expanding export horizons for Israeli industry and service sectors. The agreement will forge new opportunities for Israeli companies and give them a competitive edge against foreign companies. Panama is a signatory to free trade agreements with many countries including the US, the EU, Canada, EFTA countries, Singapore, Taiwan, Peru, Colombia, Chile and Mexico. A free trade agreement with Panama will level Israel's position regarding trade benefits with those countries."
Mrs. Yifat Alon-Perel, Director, Bilateral Trade and Economic Agreements at the Ministry of Economy and head of the Israeli delegation to the talks said: "Free trade agreements constitute a significant framework for Israeli exports. Today, about 65% of Israeli exports go to countries with which Israel shares free trade agreements, giving exporters benefits regarding customs and a competitive edge. The Foreign Trade Administration continues to work for the benefit of Israeli exporters by guaranteeing their products remain competitive and by ensuring easier access to new markets while striving to remove trade obstacles exporters typically face in these markets. Israeli exporters enjoy a competitive advantage in Mexico thanks to the longstanding free trade agreement our countries have enjoyed since 2000, as well as to the Mercosur states, including Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. In addition, one year ago a free trade agreement was signed with Colombia which is expected to go into effect in about a year. Our goal is to increase Israeli industry's competitive advantage by signing agreements with more countries, including Panama. Tightening economic ties with Panama is doubly important both for opening new markets for Israeli industry and for strengthening Israel's standing among Latin American countries."
According to the Foreign Trade Administration at the Israeli Ministry of Economy, the economy of Panama is based primarily on a developed service sector which constitutes more than three quarters of its GDP and includes the operation of the Panama Canal, logistics, banking, the free trade zone in Colón, insurance, ports, shipping registration and tourism. Economic growth in Panama in 2013 exceeded 8% and is attributed - among other factors - to the widening of the Panama Canal which began in 2007 at a cost of $5.3 billion. Additional infrastructure development projects expected to take place in the country may very well draw Israeli firms with relevant expertise.
Panama is a candidate to join the Pacific Alliance, a bloc of Latin American nations including Mexico, Colombia (both of which enjoy free trade agreements with Israel), Chile and Peru. The bloc includes 200 million consumers and a joint GDP of over $3 trillion. This constitutes 35% of the total GDP of Latin American countries and over 50% of Latin American trade. Israeli exports to Panama in 2014 stood at $25 million and imports from Panama at $3 million.