Washington, DC - U.S. and Israeli officials convened in Washington for the 30th anniversary session of the U.S. - Israel Joint Economic Development Group (JEDG), the annual senior-level economic policy dialogue between the two countries. Participants recognized the remarkable progress in the bilateral economic relationship over the past three decades and pledged to continue expanding and deepening policy coordination and cooperation across a broad range of sectors.
The meeting also highlighted the 30th anniversary of the U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the first free trade agreement signed by the United States. Since the signing of the FTA, two-way trade between the United States and Israel has increased from $4.6 billion in 1986 to $38 billion in 2014.
Approximately 50 senior U.S. and Israeli economic policy officials participated and discussed fiscal and monetary policy and macroeconomic developments, as well as digital transformation in government services, science and technology collaboration, innovations in health cooperation, and trade issues. This year’s JEDG included outcomes in several fields of collaboration and mutual learning. A panel, the first of its kind for the JEDG, was held on digital transformation in the public sector, tackling shared challenges such as talent recruitment and innovative methods of digital procurement.
In a discussion on increasing the accessibility to credit for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the two sides agreed on creating work groups to share knowledge on this critically important economic issue. Both delegations heard the results of a year-long study, surveying the breadth and depth of cooperation in research and development (R&D), and agreed to further discuss ways in which to advance and expand binational R&D.
Finally, the Israeli Ministry of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services agreed to renew an umbrella memorandum of understanding aimed at strengthening research and collaboration.
Participation in this year’s economic policy summit included Israeli Finance Ministry Director General Shai Babad (Israel Chair), Dr. Karnit Flug, Governor of the Bank of Israel, and Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Ron Dermer. In addition, the dialogue included senior Israeli officials from the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, and Prime Minister’s Office; the Israeli Embassy in Washington; the Digital Israel National Bureau; and the Office of the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Economy.
The U.S. delegation included Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Ambassador Charles Rivkin (U.S. Co-Chair), Assistant Secretary of Treasury for International Finance Ramin Toloui (U.S. Co-Chair), and other officials from the Departments of State, Treasury, Commerce, Health and Human Services; the General Services Administration; the Office of the 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 economic dialogue.
During a commemorative lunch, Assistant Secretary Rivkin declared, “the JEDG remains an invaluable forum where we can assess strategically the content and context of our broad, deep, and diverse economic relationship.” The JEDG meetings, he said, “provide a forum for identifying challenges that need to be addressed and opportunities to forge new areas of cooperation.”
Director General Babad echoed Assistant Secretary Rivkin’s desire for a robust follow-up process to the JEDG, including the creation of binational workgroups to cooperate on these issues year-long. In his remarks, Mr. Babad stated that the Government of Israel “firmly believes that the conversations taking place at the JEDG, and the ongoing year-long dialogue between our governments, can better the lives of people on both sides of the ocean.”