US State Offices in Israel….Israel’s Best Kept Secret

The recent Times of Israel article highlighting the opening of the Arizona Trade & Investment Office in Israel is great news indeed.  Every new state opening here adds to the potential for additional bilateral trade and tourism.

What was missing in the article, however, is that while this will assist in the further development of business activity between Israel and Arizona, no mention was made of the fact that a number of US states have had trade and investment offices here for as long as 20+ years.

At the moment, the U.S. states of Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Pennsylvania all have representatives operating in Israel for some time whose task it is to promote business activity between the U.S. and Israel.  Arizona is the 13th such office.  Some, such as Delaware and Pennsylvania, have been here since 1997 while others have been operating for many years as well.

In addition, a number of local economic development organizations in the U.S. also have representatives here.  They include both the Cincinnati and Dayton regions in Ohio, Fairfax County (Virginia), St. Louis (Missouri), CONNEX-America Israel Camber of the Southeast, the California-Israel Chamber of Commerce, the Arizona Israel Technology Alliance, Cedar Park (Texas) and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

Geographically, the offices of Delaware, Illinois, New Mexico and Pennsylvania are located in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, while the others are located in or closer to Tel Aviv.

Strangely enough when articles speak about the strong commercial relationship between our two countries, they often forget to mention the very active US state and local representatives resident here, as was the case in the piece on Arizona.

Historically, this all began with the signing of the U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement in 1985.  An initiative of the Reagan administration, this was the very first such agreement signed by the U.S. with any foreign country.  The agreement was the catalyst that increased trade and investment between the two countries.  By 2018, bilateral trade had climbed to $49.6 billion, with U.S. exports to Israel totaling $19.8 billion and imports from Israel amounting to $29.8 billion.  On a country comparative basis, Israel is America’s 23rd largest trading partner.

What is lesser known is that in addition to trade, Israel is a major investor in the U.S. as well.  In 2018, the value of Israeli corporate investment in plants and facilities in the U.S. was $13.6 billion, a 13.9% increase over 2017.  For the record, that number is significantly larger than most countries of Western Europe, as an example.

With Arizona opening here last month and Cedar Park, Texas this month, the two countries become closer together and are ripe for mutual economic growth.  And with it we will hopefully see more state’s opening here to bolster that growth.

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 33 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, Ontario and Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Chairperson of the Israel Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.
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