US, Israel Celebrate 30 Years of Neoliberalism
On October 13th, the United States and Israeli officials convened in Washington for the 30th anniversary session of the U.S.-Israel Joint Economic Development Group (JEDG), an annual senior-level dialogue between the two countries.
According to the press release issued by the U.S. State Department a wide variety of subjects were touched on in the conference including macroeconomic developments, science and technology collaboration, increasing the accessibility to credit for small and medium enterprise, and trade issues. There was also a presentation on a year long study of cooperation which surveyed “the breadth and depth of cooperation in research and development (R&D), and agreed to further discuss ways in which to advance and expand binational R&D”.
The U.S. State department stated that the participants ¨recognized the remarkable progress in the bilateral economic relationship over the past three decades and pledged to continue expanding and deepening policy coordination and cooperation across a broad range of sectors¨.
This so-called “remarkable progress” comes in light of recent U.S. legislation to stem the BDS movement through an anti-BDS provision in the Trade Promotion Authority Bill, more commonly known as fast track authority, which makes it a principal negotiating objective of the United States government to discourage politically motivated actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel or “Israeli controlled territories” meaning Israeli settlements.
The conference also celebrated the 30th anniversary of the United States-Israel Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which according to the Office of United States Trade representative, serves “as the foundation for expanding trade and investment between the United States and Israel by reducing barriers and promoting regulatory transparency. U.S. goods and services trade with Israel totaled $46 billion in 2013.” The lowering of trade barriers since 1985 has allowed for further integration of the Israeli and U.S. economies making Israel the United States’ 24th largest goods trading partner in 2014. The United States even had an 8 billion dollar trade deficit with Israel in 2014.
The United States-Israel FTA was the first FTA negotiated by the United States and thus marks the beginning of U.S. exportation of neoliberal ideology, an ideology which seeks to completely remove foreign trade barriers to favor U.S. corporations, through FTAs. Similar FTAs like the North American Free Trade Agreement have proved to be disastrous on farmers and workers in Latin America. A similar FTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), also received many criticisms because of the way that it sought to do away with many labor and environmental regulation in the countries where it was implemented.
Despite the anti-BDS legislation in the U.S. and the continued economic cooperation of the U.S. and Israeli governments demonstrated at this year’s U.S.-Israel JEDG, the BDS movement poses a serious threat to the economy of Israel. The BDS movement has already cost Israel an estimated $15 billion with Israel projected to lose $47 billion in the next 10 years due to BDS. Combined with the fact that Foreign Direct Investment was nearly cut in half last year.