At a premier economic summit in Washington, 50 distinguished participants from the U.S. and Israel convened to mark 30 years since the forming of the Joint Economic Development Group (JEDG).
The JEDG promotes senior-level economic policy dialogue between the two countries and has much to be proud of. For instance, the U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed 30 years ago has allowed two-way trade to blossom. This has increased from $4.6 billion in 1986 to an incredible $38 billion in 2014 according to the U.S. Department of State.
Participants 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, among other senior Israeli officials. 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), among other senior officials.
Secretary Rivkin declared that "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."
This year, the two sides agreed on creating work groups to share knowledge on increasing credit for small and medium enterprises. Additionally, 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.
Director General 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."