Arizona’s most influential business advocacy organization signed an agreement with Israel’s leading business group to collaborate on areas of shared interest. The signing between the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce was part of an Arizona delegation to Israel last week led by Gov. Doug Ducey.
The Federation, founded in 1919, is an independent, nonprofit organization and is the leading economic organization for the trade and service sector. The FICC represents more than 5,000 businesses that operate in 120 different sectors. The Federation is an umbrella organization for six regional chambers of commerce in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Beer Sheva, Eilat, and Nazareth.
The memorandum of understanding between the two business groups says they will collaborate to “strengthen trade, technological and industrial cooperation.”
“I was proud to sign this agreement with Israel’s largest business organization,” Arizona Chamber President and CEO Danny Seiden said. “From our shared focus on water stewardship and procuring new water sources, to our strong aerospace & defense and technology sectors, Israel and Arizona have so much in common that entering into this agreement for our two business advocacy organizations to work with one another made perfect sense.”
The trip marked Gov. Ducey’s third visit to Israel as governor. In 2015 he became the first Arizona governor to lead a delegation to Israel. That trip included a speech before WATEC, the world’s most recognized gathering of water experts, where he discussed Arizona and Israel’s shared focus on water stewardship as two growing, advanced economies in dry, arid climates.
The most recent trip began May 29 and included meetings with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, President Isaac Herzog, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides, as well as former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and visits to Nazareth, the Tomb of Patriarchs, the Living 9/11 Memorial, the Western Wall, and other cultural and historic sites.
The Chamber has sought to strengthen the Arizona business community’s ties with Israel over the years.
Ducey in 2019 signed legislation supported by the Arizona Chamber to open an Arizona trade office in Israel, which a bipartisan delegation of 18 state lawmakers officially opened in November of that year.
The Chamber also supported legislation signed by Ducey to oppose the BDS movement – which encourages institutions to boycott, divest, or sell Israeli-related assets – an effort by anti-Israel activists to isolate the country economically.
Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee last year used her authority under that law to sell off Arizona’s bond holdings in Unilever PLC, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, after the ice cream company announced it wouldn’t sell its products in certain Israeli territories.
Chamber CEO Seiden earlier this year conducted a fireside chat with Dr. Hillel Newman, the Israel consul general to Los Angeles, before an audience of the Phoenix Council on Foreign Relations. Newman also addressed the state Legislature during his Arizona visit.
Also, the Chamber in 2018 convened a special water conference in conjunction with the U.S. Chamber and several Israeli water experts to examine best practices in water technology.
Water has been a major theme of the governor’s visits to Israel. This year’s trip included a visit to an Israeli desalination plant.
“The opportunity to see how Israel has made desalination a reality to secure the country’s water future was fascinating and inspiring,” Seiden said. “The governor during his State of the State address in January discussed his belief that desalination should be a part of Arizona’s water stewardship strategy. Having seen the promise of the technology up close, I am confident that the future of Arizona’s water security has arrived.”