Diplomacy in the Service of the Israeli Economy
(updated July 2007)
The Economic Affairs Division of the Foreign Ministry plays a pivotal role in formulating Israel's economic foreign policy, and is charged with promoting Israel's economic and trade relations on the global, bilateral and regional levels.
With the help of Israel’s missions abroad (close to 100 around the world), the Economic Affairs Division identifies Israel's economic and commercial interests and works in close cooperation with the missions, other departments in the MFA, other government ministries, the Export Institute and the Israeli business community to promote these interests. It handles issues in the fields of finance, trade, agriculture, aviation, maritime traffic, tourism, computerization, communications, and others.
The Economic Affairs Division facilitates negotiations on free trade and other economic agreements, organizes visits of finance ministers and professional delegations from other countries, promotes international fairs and conferences, disseminates economic information, provides assistance to Israeli companies to facilitate exports and investments, encourages cooperation in research and development, and much more.
Along with constructive economic activities, economics is sometimes exploited to promote a particular political agenda. This is the case with the attempts to boycott Israeli products in some countries and the lobbying activities designed to delay economic agreements and thereby apply political pressure on Israel. However, in the wake of the peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan and the political negotiations with the Palestinians, efforts have been redoubled to utilize economics as a positive tool to enhance understanding and promote peace. The Economic Affairs Division is involved in many regional initiatives in the Middle East and in promoting economic relations with Arab countries in the Gulf and in North Africa.
The Economic Affairs Division is responsible for a number of fields of activity:
- Providing political and economic assessments and recommendations to governmental ministries and institutions and to the missions abroad;
- Promoting international economic agreements, in conjunction with the relevant government ministries;
- Promoting Israeli participation in international economic organizations, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD; and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), to name a few.
- Reinforcing Israel's image abroad as a modern industrial economy and power house for cutting-edge technologies;
- Assisting Israeli companies in their operations abroad;
- Providing information, consultations, and other types of support in Israel and abroad (through the Israeli missions);
- Working with the various foreign embassies and Chambers of Commerce in Israel
The Economic Affairs Division is composed of three departments and a bureau:
Economic Affairs Department 1:
Responsible for promoting economic and commercial relations with North America, Latin America and Africa.
Economic Affairs Department 2:
Responsible for promoting economic and commercial relations with the EU and its institutions, in addition to states in the process of joining the EU – the Balkan states and Turkey.
Economic Affairs Department 3:
Responsible for promoting economic and commercial relations with Asia, the Pacific, Russia, C.I.S. & G.U.A.M. countries. The department also represents Israel vis-à-vis international economic organizations (WTO, OECD, WSIS – World Summit on the Information Society, etc.).
Bureau for Middle Eastern Economic Affairs:
Responsible for promoting economic and commercial relations with the Palestinian Authority and Middle East states.