For Immediate Release: October 25, 2011
Contact: Tim Truman (202) 482-3809
Obama Trade Official Promotes Expanded U.S. Trade with Israel and West Bank During Trade Policy Visit to Region
Under Secretary Francisco Sánchez Meets with Israeli and Palestinian Officials
TEL AVIV, Israel -- U.S. Commerce Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco Sánchez today concluded a trade policy visit to Israel and the West Bank by touring a General Motors Advanced Technology Center in Herzliya, and discussing opportunities in the Israeli market with U.S. technology firms at a technology and innovation roundtable.
“The U.S.-Israel commercial relationship is strong and vibrant,” Sánchez said. “A commitment to technology and innovation is essential to stay at the cutting-edge of economic development in today’s global marketplace. Our current and future partnerships will help ensure that we achieve our full economic potential, which means stronger businesses and more jobs in both our countries.”
Israel is the United States’ third largest export market in the Middle East, with bilateral trade of $32.2 billion in 2010. U.S. high-tech companies continue to be a leading source of employment for Israelis, providing nearly 40,000 jobs – 1 percent of the Israeli work force.
On Monday, Sánchez met with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah to promote expansion of U.S.-Palestinian commercial relations. Sánchez was the first senior U.S. Commerce official from the Obama administration to meet with the Palestinian Authority.
“The U.S. Government is strongly committed to the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state that lives side by side with Israel in peace and security,” Sánchez said after meeting with Prime Minister Fayyad. “We believe that building a strong economy is a vital step towards this endeavor.”
In 2010, direct and indirect U.S. exports to the West Bank and Gaza were an estimated $150 million. In 2010, the United States imported $3.2 million from the West Bank, up from $1.8 million in 2009. Imports consist of plants/seeds/perfumes, olive oil, and toys.
Sánchez began his Middle East visit by delivering remarks on Saturday at the World Economic Forum’s “Economic Growth and Job Creation in the Arab World,” conference at the Dead Sea, Jordan. His remarks focused on ways that Arab governments can leverage regional and global trade to restart growth and drive economic and social development.
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