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Negotiations Get into High Gear as Israeli Delegation Arrives in Panama


JERUSALEM – March 3rd, 2015 -- A 12-strong Israeli delegation headed by Ministry of Economy officials and comprised of professional staff from relevant government ministries are in Panama City to participate in a second round of negotiations for a free trade agreement between Israel and the Republic of Panama. The negotiations are part of the Foreign Trade Administration at the Ministry of Economy's policy of expanding Israeli exports to new markets, and the Israeli government's policy of strengthening relations with Latin American countries.


The agreement is expected to serve as another springboard for Israeli service providers - especially in software, communication, information security, engineering and R&D - thus expanding the potential of this and related markets.


The second round of talks began Monday in Panama City and will last four days. Twelve working groups are expected to discuss the following subjects: access to markets, customs, services and investments, intellectual property, protection of flora and fauna and veterinary aspects, trade obstacles, institutional issues and conflict resolution. Two more rounds of talks are expected before the negotiations are completed.


Head of the Foreign Trade Administration in the Israel Ministry of Economy Ohad Cohen said: "The Israeli Ministry of Economy continues to strengthen Israel's economic ties with countries around the world with an emphasis on developing economies with great potential for growth. In this case, we are expanding Israel's economic footprint in Latin America, in accordance with our policy of expanding export horizons for Israeli industry and service sectors. The agreement will forge new opportunities for Israeli companies and give them a competitive edge against foreign companies. Panama is a signatory to free trade agreements with many countries including the US, the EU, Canada, EFTA countries, Singapore, Taiwan, Peru, Colombia, Chile and Mexico. A free trade agreement with Panama will level Israel's position regarding trade benefits with those countries."


Mrs. Yifat Alon-Perel, Director, Bilateral Trade and Economic Agreements at the Ministry of Economy and head of the Israeli delegation to the talks said: "Free trade agreements constitute a significant framework for Israeli exports. Today, about 65% of Israeli exports go to countries with which Israel shares free trade agreements, giving exporters benefits regarding customs and a competitive edge. The Foreign Trade Administration continues to work for the benefit of Israeli exporters by guaranteeing their products remain competitive and by ensuring easier access to new markets while striving to remove trade obstacles exporters typically face in these markets. Israeli exporters enjoy a competitive advantage in Mexico thanks to the longstanding free trade agreement our countries have enjoyed since 2000, as well as to the Mercosur states, including Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. In addition, one year ago a free trade agreement was signed with Colombia which is expected to go into effect in about a year. Our goal is to increase Israeli industry's competitive advantage by signing agreements with more countries, including Panama. Tightening economic ties with Panama is doubly important both for opening new markets for Israeli industry and for strengthening Israel's standing among Latin American countries."


According to the Foreign Trade Administration at the Israeli Ministry of Economy, the economy of Panama is based primarily on a developed service sector which constitutes more than three quarters of its GDP and includes the operation of the Panama Canal, logistics, banking, the free trade zone in Colón, insurance, ports, shipping registration and tourism. Economic growth in Panama in 2013 exceeded 8% and is attributed - among other factors - to the widening of the Panama Canal which began in 2007 at a cost of $5.3 billion. Additional infrastructure development projects expected to take place in the country may very well draw Israeli firms with relevant expertise.


Panama is a candidate to join the Pacific Alliance, a bloc of Latin American nations including Mexico, Colombia (both of which enjoy free trade agreements with Israel), Chile and Peru. The bloc includes 200 million consumers and a joint GDP of over $3 trillion. This constitutes 35% of the total GDP of Latin American countries and over 50% of Latin American trade. Israeli exports to Panama in 2014 stood at $25 million and imports from Panama at $3 million.





Unilever Corp. Joins Multinational Cooperation Program at the Office of the Chiief Scientist


Multinational food and consumer products corporation Unilever joins program of R&D cooperation with other multinational corporations at the Office of the Chief Scientist, part of the Israeli Ministry of Economy * Entry into program follows signing of agreement between Chief Scientist Avi Hasson and David Blanchard, Chief R&D Officer at Unilever


[JERUSALEM – 24th February 2015] Unilever has become the 41st corporation, the 2nd British corporation (British-Dutch) and the 3rd food and consumer products corporation entering the Multinational Program for R&D Collaboration ("the MNC Program") at the Office of the Chief Scientist, part of the Israeli Ministry of Economy. According to Chief Scientist Avi Hasson, "the MNC Program has become the preferred option for many corporations seeking to join forces with innovative Israeli companies".


Hasson also said that "The international Unilever Corporation can create opportunities for many trailblazing Israeli producers of consumer products, thus creating solutions for the global challenges this field is facing. This can be achieved by commercial and technological cooperation that will bring Israeli innovation to the fore. The entry of Unilever, a world leader in the manufacture of food and care products to the program, emphasizes the attraction Israeli industrial innovation holds for multinationals outside the realm of Information Technology and Communications."


David Blanchard, Chief R&D Officer at Unilever, said that "Unilever is known for its investment in innovation. Cooperating with the Chief Scientist in the MNC Program is an excellent way for us to discover and examine innovative technologies that can help us meet the company's growth aspirations."


An example of one such type of cooperation is the joint initiative established by Unilever in 2013 with Israeli company Syneron Medical Ltd., a world leader in aesthetic medicine products. The two companies joined forces on the design and development of a line of innovative high-performance cosmetic products for home use, called 'Illuminage Beauty'.


The Multinational Program at the Office of the Chief Scientist: The program offers a unique framework for technological cooperation between Israeli companies and multinational concerns. According to the agreement, the Chief Scientist helps a multinational company find Israeli technologies answering the company's needs and gives subsidies for funding R&D necessary to complete development. The multinational company supports the product by matching the grant from the Chief Scientist either financially or by lending equipment, technological and regulatory counseling, marketing direction etc. Thus, the multinational corporation helps the Israeli company grow and opens marketing opportunities abroad.


About Unilever: Unilever is one of the world's leading and largest producers of food, healthcare and homecare products. The company is a world leader in research and development through innovation and through constant improvements to existing products. Unilever is active in 190 countries and its products are used by 2 billion people every day. 174,000 people work in the company and it manufactures and distributes its products under 400 brand names.


Unilever is always practicing new ways of doing business, as part of its vision and sustainability program and in an effort to grow whole at the same time, reducing its negative impact on the environment and creating a positive environmental footprint. Unilever's sustainability program focuses on three main goals for the year 2020 - improving health and quality of living, reducing the environmental footprint by half and improving sources of income in the company's supply chain. In 2014, the corporation's production around the world closed at 48.4 billion euro.


In Israel, Unilever is represented by Unilever-Israel, employing 2,500 people in the company's headquarters and four production facilities. Some of Unilever's leading brands: Telma, Knorr, Lipton, Hellmann's, Mazola, Blue Band, Klik, Bagel & Bagel, Strauss Ice Creams, Dove, Rexxona, Axe, Clear, Badin, Pinuk and others.


Another facility established in Israel is the international Unilever Innovation Center, entrusted with locating, testing and implementing innovative solutions across the company's brands. The innovation center is run and operated by the Earthbound Company.






Ambassador Shapiro to Lead Israeli Investment Delegation to the United States  Invites more Israeli companies to join his delegation to SelectUSA Summit 2015


U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro invites Israeli companies to join him and other Israeli investors already signed up to participate in the SelectUSA Summit 2015. Ambassador Shapiro will lead a delegation of up to 20 Israeli companies from a variety of business sectors to the Summit, aimed at opening the U.S. market to foreign investment by showcasing the United States as the world's premier business location and providing easy access to federal programs and services related to business investment. The summit will take place outside Washington, DC, March 23-24.


At the Summit, the Israeli delegation members, along with investors from 72 countries, will hold one-on-one meetings with State Economic Development Organizations to talk about each State's commercial environment, developing markets and State incentives. The summit will hold moderated panels presenting the latest information on all aspects of investment in the U.S.


Ambassador Shapiro praised this unique opportunity, and urged more Israeli companies to sign up: "This summit is a chance for some great Israeli companies to find their market in the United States, grow their business, and expand trade between the U.S. and Israel. I strongly encourage more Israeli companies to join me on this delegation and take advantage of this unique opportunity. Israeli investors have contributed significantly to the American economy, helping make the U.S. the most attractive destination for investment."


Maria Andrews, the U.S. Embassy's Commercial Counselor in Israel, said: "We are very excited about the Israeli delegation attending the summit and know how beneficial it can be for the companies to explore a number of potential U.S. locations in the space of two days, all in one place. We will continue to work with the companies after the Summit to help them reach their goals, connecting them with economic development officials in the different States."


About SelectUSA:


SelectUSA is a federal program aimed at assisting businesses from around the world who are interested in expanding their business into the U.S. The program was launched in 2011 by executive order and is managed as part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. It is the first such program to be managed on a federal level. Its purpose is to directly connect the different U.S. States with international companies wishing to invest in the U.S.


To learn more about SelectUSA, and to register for the summit, please visit www.selectusasummit.com or contact Sigal Mendelovich at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


















Strengthening farming in the Gaza periphery

The tenth Negev Conference on Agricultural Research and Development, which was held in the Eshkol Regional Council, focused on developing agriculture in Israel's Gaza Border communities. Director of KKL-JNF's Southern Region Ami Uliel reviewed KKL-JNF's extensive activities to promote Negev development - which are carried out with the help of its Friends worldwide – in areas such as agriculture, land, water, afforestation, settlement and tourism.


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Prof. Sheenan Harpaz. Photo: Yoav Devir









Mexico to Join Office of the Chief Scientist at the Israeli Ministry of Economy in Funding Research and Development Projects * Goal: To Advance Research and Industrial Development In Both Countries * Israeli and Mexican Companies to Receive Funding for Joint R&D Projects * Leading Fields for Joint Research: Water Management, Desert Agriculture, Pharma and Medical Devices, Electronics and Communication


JERUSALEM. December 8th, 2014 – Israel and Mexico signed a cooperation agreement for industrial R&D over the weekend. As part of the agreement, Mexico will join the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) at the Israeli Ministry of Economy in a framework of international cooperation to fund joint projects in research and development intended to advance industrial development between both countries.


The agreement – signed last week by Israeli Ambassador to Mexico Rodica Radian Gordon –was led by CONACYT (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología) and its Israeli counterpart, the Office of the Chief Scientist (through the office's executive arm MATIMOP), the Israeli ambassador to Mexico and the Israeli Ministry of Economy's trade attaché to Mexico, Rona Kotler Ben Aroya.


Under the agreement, Israeli and Mexican companies will receive assistance in funding joint projects in vast areas of research and development. The leading fields for cooperation with Mexico will include water management, desert agriculture, pharma and medical devices, electronics and communication. However, the agreement will serve as a framework for all types of technology cooperation.


Apart from the potential in implementing the agreement with the business community in Mexico, the move can also advance other agreements in Latin America and strengthen business relations with countries such as Brazil, Chile or Colombia.


Chief Scientist at the Israeli Ministry of Economy Avi Hasson said: "We are delighted with Mexico's vote of confidence in Israel's economy, industry and innovation, which have long been global brands. Cooperation agreements such as the one signed with Mexico contribute to the Israeli market by creating new jobs, advancing R&D, technological enterprise and more."


Rona Kotler Ben Aroya, Trade Attaché to Mexico from the Israeli Ministry of Economy, said: "Mexico is one of the world's largest manufacturers in a variety of fields, comprising an essential part of the country's economy. Many of its products are intended for the North American market. In an effort to preserve its global competitiveness, the Mexican government has set a goal of advancing research and development in order to streamline and upgrade the manufacturing processes of local companies by implementing advanced technologies in the manufacturing process. The signing of the industrial R&D agreement between Israel and Mexico will help Israeli companies integrate products and advanced technologies with local manufacturers and realize the potential of this market."


Immediately following the agreement's signing and confirmation, a call will be issued in early 2015 to Israeli and Mexican companies to present joint proposals for parallel funding for R&D projects.