Kahlon, Scholz sign agreement boosting economic and financial cooperation

The Israeli and German finance ministers signed a similar agreement in May, strengthening cooperation in the fields of financial technology and financial cybersecurity.

October 4, 2018 18:03
3 minute read.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and German Finance Minister and Deputy Chancellor Olaf Scholz, October

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and German Finance Minister and Deputy Chancellor Olaf Scholz, October 4, 2018. (photo credit: NOAM RIVKIN-PANTON)

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and his German counterpart, Finance Minister and Deputy Chancellor Olaf Scholz, signed a high-level agreement on Thursday establishing a financial dialogue mechanism between the two countries.

Scholz is one of a number of ministers accompanying German Chancellor Angela Merkel on her fifth visit to Israel, and participating in the seventh government-to-government meeting since 2008.

The mechanism will empower the Israeli and German finance ministries to advance and strengthen Israeli-German economic and financial cooperation, especially in the fields of financial technology and combating cyber threats against financial institutions.

The ministries will share macroeconomic and financial projections, as well as committing to regular exchanges of information according to governmental needs on financial matters.

“We are deepening the connections between the largest European economy and the Israeli economy,” said Kahlon at the signing of the agreement in Jerusalem’s King David Hotel.

“The new mechanism that we are establishing today will clear the way for additional economic opportunities between us and the Germans, which will contribute to the prosperity of the two countries. Relations between Israel and Germany are stepping up a level today – and that has both economic and strategic significance,” Kahlon added.

Thursday’s agreement follows a May meeting between the two ministers, where they concluded an agreement similarly based on cooperation in the fields of financial technology and financial cybersecurity.

“I am pleased about the deepening cooperation between the countries,” said Scholz. “This is a new stage in the excellent relations between the Israeli and German finance ministries. Dialogue between the ministries will improve our professionalism and will assist in standing against the financial challenges that lie before us.”

The Finance Ministry’s Chief Economist Division will be responsible for coordinating the increased cooperation, alongside Germany’s equivalent financial body.

Prior to meeting with Kahlon, Scholz met with Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay.

According to the party, Scholz expressed to Gabbay his concerns regarding recent legislation advanced by the Israeli government that he described as reminiscent of laws passed in China and Russia, including the passage of the Jewish Nation-State Law by the Knesset in July.

“I was pleased to meet this morning with the Finance Minister and Deputy Chancellor Olaf Scholz,” said Gabbay. “We discussed Iran, relations with the Palestinians, and especially ways and programs to return hope to young people and working families.”

Gabbay added that he was committed to democratic values and fighting the legislation that Scholz mentioned.

Also on Thursday, Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen met with his German government counterpart, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier.

The ministers signed an economic cooperation agreement emphasizing bilateral support for trade in the fields of clean technology, the automotive industry and digital health, as well as strengthening existing cooperation in research and development.

“Germany is an important trade partner and one of the closest friends of Israel,” said Cohen. “The Israeli government and my ministry are committed to increasing trade between the countries.”

According to the Ministry for Economy and Industry, bilateral trade between Israel and Germany in 2017 stood at approximately $7.8 billion, an increase of $1.2 billion since 2016.

Israel’s primary exports to Germany are machinery, optical equipment, and chemical and plastic products. Key imports from Germany include machinery, transport equipment and chemical products.

Figures released for bilateral trade during the first six months of 2018 show a further increase, with Israeli exports up by 12.9% and imports increasing by 31% compared to the same period in 2017.

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