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Obama admin seeks to encourage business with Iran, drawing bipartisan criticism from lawmakers

Posted by Albert Gersh - June 24, 2016


Congressmen from both sides of the aisle have criticized the Obama administration’s soliciting of business with Iran, as well as American companies doing business there, including the recent $17.6 billion deal between Boeing and Iran. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal on Thursday, the administration plans to take additional steps to integrate Iran into the world economy. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said on Thursday, “It is Iran’s challenge to demonstrate that their economy is transparent enough, legitimate enough, secure enough, to attract foreign investment. I don’t think it’s our job to act as the chamber of commerce for Tehran.” Iran has complained that the U.S. has not done enough in the aftermath of the nuclear deal to attract companies to do business with it, which caused the U.S. to prepare to give Iran limited access to the U.S. dollar. According to the Journal, the administration is considering publicly supporting Iran’s bid to join the World Trade Organization and to take other measures to integrate Iran into the global economy. Coons also said, “I am concerned that by entertaining Iranian complaints of inadequate sanctions relief, we risk giving these claims legitimacy. If Iran is unhappy with the level of economic benefits it has received since the [Iran deal], it has only itself and its own actions to blame.” The Journal reported that Obama administration officials are “seeking to make [Obama’s] policies toward Cuba and Iran, which have been controversial, difficult for his successors to unravel.”

Boeing’s sale of more than 100 planes to Iran Air rests on the hope that the airline will no longer be used by the Iranian military to transfer weapons and fighters to Iranian-backed terror and insurgency groups across the Middle East. The US Treasury designated Iran Air in 2011 for being used by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran’s Ministry of Defense and Armed Forces Logistics to transport military-related equipment including rockets and missiles. The Treasury asserted, “the IRGC is also known to disguise and manifest such shipments as medicine and generic spare parts.” The IRGC has in some instances taken control of commercial Iran Air flights with special cargo and discouraged Iran Air pilots from inspecting the cargo. U.S. officials have not indicated that such activity has stopped. The administration used a technicality to drop sanctions on the airline, stating that it was sanctioned under an executive order relating to weapons of mass destruction, not terrorism.

Boeing’s senior vice president of government operations, Timothy Keating, told House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) on Thursday that, during negotiations over the Iran deal, “It was made clear to us in those consultations [with the Obama administration] that that [sic] the ability to provide Iranian airlines with U.S. and European replacement commercial passenger aircraft for their aging fleets was key and essential to reaching closure on the agreement.” Roskam said, “If Boeing goes through with this deal, the company will forever be associated with Iran’s chief export: radical Islamic terrorism.”


Israel’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.8 percent, its lowest rate since 1983, the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics announced Thursday.This places Israel in the range of what economists call the “natural rate of unemployment,” which is caused by people changing jobs, retraining, or moving — what’s expected when an economy is doing well — rather than a lack of demand. “The jobless rate is not only low historically but low by international standards, and by conventional economic definitions there’s no unemployment at all in Israel,” Haaretz‘s Moti Bassok explained.

Israel’s unemployment rate is just a few ticks behind that of the United States (4.7 percent) and Germany (4.2 percent), and still ranks among the best within the 36-nation Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which averages a 6.4 percent rate. Israel’s unemployment rate is also nearly half of the European Union’s average of 8.7 percent.

When unemployment reaches such low levels, wages rise as employers don’t have as big a pool of job seekers to choose from. Wages have been rising at a five percent annual rate since the beginning of the year. The average monthly wage is now 10,128 shekels ($2,645).

study last year found that Israel was the fifth-happiest country within the OECD, ranking ahead of the United States, United Kingdom, and France. (via TheTower.org)

Electronics For Imaging (EFI) recently announced its buyout of Optitex, an emerging leader in integrated 3D design software that enables the textile industry’s digital transformation and accelerates the adoption of fast fashion. The deal is worth up to $52.8 million. “We are thrilled to add the OptiTex team and its fast-growing base of industry-leading customers to the EFI family,” said Gabriel Matsliach, senior vice president and general manager, EFI Productivity Software. “Optitex technology, combined with EFI Reggiani digital printers, will expand our textile ecosystem and help our customers set new standards for time-to-market, on-demand manufacturing, cost efficiency and automation in the Textile industry.” Optitex, based in Petah Tikva, has offices in the US, Italy, India, and Hong Kong. “We are very excited to join the EFI family,” said Asaf Landau, CEO of OptiTex. “EFI’s global presence, holistic solution approach, strong professional services abilities, and growing portfolio of innovative textile industry-specific products will be of great benefit to the leading companies we serve worldwide in the fashion, automotive, aerospace and technical textiles industries. I am truly enthusiastic about what is to come for these industries in the years ahead.” The deal states that the maximum purchase price of the Israeli startup will be $52.8 million, including a $20 million upfront cash payment, $3 million of which was placed into escrow, and annual cash earnout payments over three one-year periods of up to an additional $32.8 million in total. (via Israel21c)

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