The US is demanding that Israel improve its protection of intellectual property, US Deputy Secretary of Commerce David Sampson told Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Eli Yishai.Â He said this was necessary to improve bilateral trade relation and raise them to the same level as the two countriesâ€™ strategic, political and defense relations. Sampson is visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority.A senior Ministry of Industry told â€œGlobesâ€ that the meeting raised concerns the US might increase pressure on Israel to amend its intellectual property laws. Sampson told Yishai that this was high priority matter for the US administration, and that it had a negative impact on the development of bilateral commercial relations.
Yishai said that intellectual property was a highly sensitive matter because of strong effect on Israelâ€™s pharmaceutical industry. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (Nasdaq: TEVA; TASE: TEVA) is the worldâ€™s largest generic drug company.
Yishai asked Sampson to remove Israel from the US Trade Representativeâ€™s priority watch list of countries that violate intellectual property rights. He said that Israel met all international obligations that it had undertaken in this matter.
The US and Europe claim that Israel does not meet it international obligations regarding intellectual property rights. They claim that Israel places the interests of Teva and other pharmaceutical companies above complying with its international obligations.
Sampson told Yishai that the US also wants an improvement in its balance of trade with Israel. Israel has a large trade surplus with the US: exports totaled $16.4 billion in January-November 2006, while imports totaled $5.4 billion.