Israel, IDB sign cooperation agreement for R&D, trade

Marcy Oster

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Israel signed a cooperation agreement with Inter-American Development Bank, the largest investment authority in Latin America and the Caribbean Islands.

The IDB funds some $12 billion in projects annually.

“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,” said Avi Hasson, Chief Scientist at the Israeli Ministry of Economy, who signed the agreement on Monday.

The agreement could allow 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.

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Israeli Ministry of Economy data shows that Israeli exports to Latin America in 2014 stood at $2.53 billion, excluding diamonds. The fields of machines and mechanical devices leads  exports with 39.7percent of all exports, followed by chemicals  at 20.1 percent, then plastics and rubber at 6.3 percent.

Brazil is Israel’s main export destination in Latin America. In 2014 exports to Brazil reached $915 million, comprising 36.1 percent of all Israeli exports to the region. Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia and Chile are the next most significant export destinations.

Israel’s trade agreement with countries which are members of the South American joint market known as Mercosur – namely Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay- went into effect in June 2010, and in September 2011 with Argentina.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority are the only countries outside Latin America that enjoy a free trade agreement with Mercosur states.

In May 2014, the Netanyahu administration approved a three-year plan to strengthen its economic ties with five Latin American countries: Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Central American Costa Rica.

“We are making a very concentrated and focused effort to vary our markets, from our previous dependence on the European market, to the growing Asian and Latin American markets, in which Israel needs to take a small market share and bring about growth, employment and social welfare in the State of Israel,” the Israeli Prime Minister told his Cabinet in May 2014.

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