Press release: Shift to high-tech contributed to increases in
exports and economic growth
1. This third Trade Policy Review of Israel has been both thorough and
informative; it has allowed a better understanding of Israel's trade
policies and practices, of their evolution over the last six years,
and of their outlook. The reports by Israel and the Secretariat, and
the exhaustive responses of the delegation of Israel to the questions
by Members, have served as a valuable resource and have made a
significant contribution to transparency. We owe the high quality of
thie review to the presence of an impressive Israeli delegation, led
by Vice-Director General Udi Sheintal, and to the active involvement
of Members. Our thanks are also due to our discussant, Ambassador
Ronald Saborio Soto, for his very insightful contribution to our
2. Members welcomed Israel's recent strong economic performance,
largely driven by foreign trade and innovation, and supported by
structural and macro-economic reform. Members encouraged Israel to
pursue its reforms, particularly to further reduce state intervention
and enhance competition.
3. Members appreciated Israel's firm commitment to and active
participation in the multilateral trading system, including the Doha
Development Agenda. They noted, however, that an increasing part of
its trade was taking place under preferential regimes. While Members
congratulated Israel for the steps taken to liberalize its trade
regime, they encouraged it to bring its other duties and charges, as
well as some applied MFN tariffs, in line with its WTO binding
commitments. Referring to the sharp contrast between Israel's low
non-agricultural and high agricultural tariffs, some Members
encouraged it to undertake tariff reductions on agricultural products.
They requested Israel to consider improving market access to imports
from developing countries. Members also appreciated the unilateral
lifting of prohibitions on imports from Members that have no
diplomatic relations with Israel or do not allow imports from it.
4. On sectoral policies, Members pointed to the high level of support
to and protection for Israel's agriculture sector. Noting that almost
all segments of the energy sector were still under state monopoly,
Members encouraged Israel to take further steps to liberalize this
sector. They also observed the growing importance of the services
sector for the Israeli economy and expressed appreciation for its
liberalization through, inter alia, the privatization programme. They
were also interested in further reform plans that could improve the
efficiency of Israel's economy.
5. Members sought clarification on a number of issues, notably: import
licensing and prohibitions; contingency trade remedies; standards and
technical regulations; investment and export incentives; government
procurement; and protection of intellectual property rights.
6. Members expressed their appreciation for the responses to their
questions as provided by the Israeli delegation.
7. In conclusion, Members value Israel's efforts to improve its
economic environment. As a small economy based on innovation and
strongly dependent on foreign trade, Israel has a lot to gain from a
free and open trade environment. I encourage Israel to continue
liberalizing its trade regime, both on goods and services, with a view
to further improving its transparency and predictability. I urge
Members to support Israel's reforms by providing greater market access
to its goods and services.