In general, Israel offers a good commercial environment for U.S. companies. The United States-Israel Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has eliminated almost all tariffs, leaving Israel's agricultural sector as the only one with substantial barriers. The FTA also provides for a joint committee comprised of representatives from both countries to review the functioning of the agreement (the committee last met in October 2007). Israel is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
A 1996 Agreement on Trade in Agricultural Products (ATAP) with the United States permits Israel to maintain non-tariff protection for certain agricultural products. This framework expired at the end of 2001 but the signed agreement was extended until the end of 2009. Under the agreement, Israel permits free access to a long list of food products and duty-free access for certain quantities of a list of U.S. products under tariff rate quotas (TRQ). American exporters and Israeli importers, however, complain that these TRQs provide an insufficient duty-free quota for many fruits and other products, and very high fees on additional quantities (above quota). Israel excludes some U.S. fruits, including, citrus, peaches, and nectarines, on phytosanitary grounds. Israel is revising its phytosanitary restrictions making them consistent with WTO requirements.
The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv is very actively pursuing much-needed improvements in the export and investment climate for U.S. firms in Israel. The efforts are focused in three specific areas: incorporating technical standards in Israel that do not discriminate against U.S. products, protecting intellectual property rights, and establishing greater transparency in Israel’s public procurement process. For further information about how these issues may affect your export prospects in Israel, please contact the Commercial Service in Israel.
Regarding intellectual Property Rights, while there has been improvement in the level of illegal production, importation, and sale of copyrighted and trademarked goods, serious problems still exist. For more details, see “Intellectual Property Rights, in Chapter 6, “Investment Climate Statement.”