How Israel and Texas Can Work Together to Strengthen Their Respective Economic Goals
Prior to U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s May 22nd visit, the Israeli Minister of Economy Minister Eli Cohen announced that Israel plans to increase its exports to the U.S to over $100 billion by 2020. This is more than five times Israel’s 2016 U.S. export volume of $17.6 billion. Texas is poised to be one of the most important recipients of these exports.
One additional type of export that may see an increase especially following Cohen’s initiative are agricultural exports to the state of Texas.
This past March, Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Sid Miller signed a historic agreement in Israel to encourage an economic relationship between Texas and Israel through expanding agricultural trade. This “Declaration of Cooperation” formally opens the door for future trade between the two states. As Commissioner Miller explains, “Whether working on agricultural technology such as livestock genetics, finding solutions to our future water needs, increasing Texas exports or creating new jobs for both Texas and Israel, we have only scratched the surface of the ways we can work together.” Commissioner Miller addressed important Texas-Israel economic initiatives in the agricultural sphere during the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce’s Israel Water Innovation Showcase in May.
As both Texas and Israel share an economic overlap in the areas of water and energy, this initiative opens the way for Texas to implement new technology that Israel has used to conserve its water supply and combat the threat of drought. For example, Israel is the world’s pioneer in water desalination, and has developed desalination plants that use a unique reverse osmosis system that has actually led to a surplus in the nation’s water supply and a decrease in energy costs. This technology provides an incredible cost effective water solution to Texas.
In addition to water, Israel and Texas have incredible economic cooperation opportunities in defense & cyber-security, energy and biomedical technology.
In fact, the Texas State legislature is advancing special legislation to increase cyber-security and combat attacks, and Israel can play a strong role in supporting these efforts. The Texas House passed two bills in April: “The Texas Cybersecurity Act” and the “Texas Cybercrime Act.” Together, the acts require an audit of Texas systems and storage data, a plan for cyber-attack response and stricter punishments for cybercrime. Israel is internationally recognized as a leader in cyber security and its breakthrough innovations are helping other nations safeguard their businesses and citizens from cyber-attacks. Israel’s expertise comes from expertise gleaned from its sophisticated military intelligence forces. In fact, the US government approved legislation in December 2016 to expand joint cyber research with Israel. Despite Israel’s small size, it is the second largest exporter of cyber security goods and services after the United States.
Texas and Israel both have great supplies of natural gas that gives each state the potential ability to be energy independent. Israel’s discovery of large fields containing natural gas is more recent. Major offshore oil fields Tamar and Leviathan together possess an estimated 32 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Such great amounts of energy along with the finding of the additional offshore gas fields of Tanin (2012) and Karish (2013) have added energy security to Israel by diversifying its domestic supply of oil and positioning it as a potential energy exporter in the future. In the United States, Texas is a leader in the realm of energy and recently the largest oil deposit ever discovered in the U.S. was found in the Lone Star State. Last November, it was affirmed that the Wolfcamp Shale located in the Midland Basin portion of the U.S. Permian Basin contains $1 trillion worth of gas and oil in the form of 20 billion barrels of oil and 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. In recognition of this area of economic overlap that Israel and Texas share, both states should consider forming economic agreements to ensure energy security and diversity.
The realm of biomedical research and technology is another economic area wherein both states should consider a strategic economic collaboration. Texas is a major state for medical breakthroughs and research considering that it houses the largest medical complex in the world (The Texas Medical Center), the largest Children’s hospital in the world (the Texas Children’s Hospital) and the largest cancer hospital in the world (MD Anderson Cancer Center). Further, Texas has hundreds of biotechnology companies, many of which focus on medical devices, and over 3,900 life science and research firms. For its part, Israel has grown to over 1,300 active life science companies. Most of these firms are focusing on the highly specialized areas of medical devices and HealthCare IT Technologies. Recognizing how both states have an increasing amount of critical biomedical technology expertise, Texas and Israel should also consider collaborating to expand this booming area of science in helping each state achieve its important economic goals.