Froman: Ag a good reason to update U.S.-Israel FTA
December 4, 2015
Trade Representative Michael Froman called today for an update of the 30-year-old U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement and cited agriculture as one of the areas that need updating.
In a speech to the U.S. Israel Business Initiative, Froman said he wanted to acknowledge that "in some respects, our FTA has been bypassed by time. Thirty years ago, it was a very forward-looking document. But the world has changed dramatically since then."
Froman added, "Whether it is advances in technology or the changing patterns of trade, the global landscape of trade has changed. There is no reason for us to be stuck in a vision of our economic relationship frozen in time. Today, American companies continue to face challenges in their efforts to do business in Israel, often at a disadvantage to firms from Israel and other trading partners."
Specifically, he said, "In agriculture, for example, Israel provides much greater market access to European firms than U.S. firms. For wine, Europe's quota is three times larger than our own. Similarly, in frozen vegetables, Europe's quota is more than six times larger than our own. Why does that make sense?
"We would both benefit from an agreement that eliminates all tariffs and certain non-tariff barriers in agriculture. The U.S.-Israel FTA is unique among our FTAs in not achieving meaningful market access for agricultural products, and getting that done would cement closer economic ties and increase our two-way trade."
–The Hagstrom Report