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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Israel should look to the Irish economic model as a roadmap for constructing a healthier and more fruitful local economy, Histadrut Labor Organization Chairman Ofer Eini and Chairman of the Federation of Israeli Economic Organizations Shraga Brosh urged Tuesday.
"Despite the differences in our economies, there are many elements from the Irish model that we should incorporate into the Israeli economy," Brosh said. "These include the establishment of an economic-social policy that is geared towards the long-term outlook of the economy and developing the optimal conditions to encourage investment."
In a letter sent to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the heels of last week's economic fact-finding mission to Ireland, Eini and Brosh told Olmert they have formed a working group to construct a list of recommendations in an effort to move Israel more in line with Ireland's economic policies and requested that he designate a representative from his office to participate in the group. The commission will be headed by Professor Avia Spivak, former deputy-governor of the Bank of Israel and currently an economics professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
"The visit to Ireland has allowed us to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of the Irish economic model and its economic-social partnership," said the FIEO. "We went with the intention to raise the potential growth of our own economy, the improve the lives of our citizens and to increase the salaries of our country's laborers."
Since the late 1980s, Ireland has subscribed to free trade in part as a way to increase domestic competitiveness and has also recognized how protectionist policies, like high tariffs, can distort the path of economic development and investment. To this end, it implemented policies focused on facilitating foreign investment and created incentives to attract it; today accounting for one-quarter of all US foreign direct investment in Europe.
The cornerstone of the country's economic policy, however, is the broad social partnership between industry and trade unions, which paved the way for positive and constructive relations and helped restrain wage growth. The country's education system has also been revamped, earning it international recognition and attracting educators from around the world in hopes of building similar systems in their own countries.
"Specifically at a time when Israel's education system is suffering through strikes is when it is most clear that we have to seriously invest in our education system," said Eini. "There is no doubt in my mind that the cooperation between the various organizations in Ireland has allowed that country to turn around its economic reality on all fronts."
Eini and Brosh's visit to Ireland included a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, in addition to private meetings with the Irish Business and Employers Confederation, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the National Economic and Social Council of Ireland and the Economic and Social Research Center.
Before concluding their meeting with Ahern, Brosh and Eini invited the Prime Minister to participate in the upcoming "Israeli Economic-Social Cooperation" conference, tentatively scheduled for early 2008.
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