Israel, top Latin American bank sign pact for R&D, trade


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.

“Implementing the agreement will give Israeli companies access to partners in R&D and trade in the region,” said the Israeli Ministry of Economy’s Avi Hasson, 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 become involved in development programs that are funded by the bank, and funding industrial R&D cooperation.

According to the Israeli Ministry of Economy, Israeli exports to Latin America in 2014 were at $2.53 billion, excluding diamonds. The fields of machines and mechanical devices led with 40 percent of exports, followed by chemicals at 20 percent, then plastics and rubber at 6 percent.

Brazil was Israel’s main export destination in Latin America in 2014 at $915 million, comprising 36 percent of Israeli exports to the region. Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia and Chile were the next most significant export destinations.

Israel’s trade agreement with countries that belong to 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,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Cabinet at the time.

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