US – Palestinian Authority renews economic dialogue

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday [Alex Brandon/Pool via AFP]

WASHINGTON, USA – US and Palestinian officials gathered virtually on December 14 to renew the US-Palestinian Economic Dialogue (USPED). The first such meeting in five years, this senior-level dialogue brought together a wide range of agencies and ministries from the US government and the Palestinian Authority to discuss current and future areas of economic cooperation, US Department of State noted.

Participants recognized the importance of restored political and economic relations between the US government and the Palestinian Authority and pledged to expand and deepen cooperation and coordination across a range of sectors.

“During the USPED, senior US and Palestinian officials discussed key topics, including infrastructure development, access to US markets, US regulations, free trade, financial issues, renewable energy and environmental initiatives, connecting Palestinian and American businesses, and addressing obstacles to Palestinian economic development. The dialogue also included a discussion of international trade relations,” reports the office of the Spokesperson. “The two sides concluded the dialogue agreeing to work on several crucial issues to advance the economic prosperity of the Palestinian people. The US government outlined programs that could support the Palestinian Authority’s efforts towards financial issues, trade, and promoting foreign direct investment. This year’s dialogue was a testament to the importance of US-Palestinian economic relations and the opportunity to increase collaboration on economic issues of shared importance.” 

During opening remarks, US assistant secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Yael Lempert underscored the Biden-Harris administration’s belief that the Palestinian people deserve to live in freedom, security, and prosperity, noted: “Growing the Palestinian economy will also play a critical role in advancing our overarching political goal: a negotiated two-state solution, with a viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel.”

Participation in this year’s economic dialogue included Palestinian minister of national economy Khaled Al-Osaily (Palestinian Chair), the governor of the PMA Feras Melhem, minister of information technology and communication Ishaq Sider, chairman of the Palestinian energy & natural resources authority Zafer Melhem, environment quality authority chairman Jameel Matour, head of the investment promotion and industrial estate Haytham Al Wahidi, and advisors to the prime minister, Estephan Salameh and Shakir Khalil.

The US delegation included acting assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs Yael Lempert (US Chair), deputy assistant secretary for Israel and Palestinian affairs Hady Amr, US Palestinian affairs unit chief George Noll, deputy assistant secretary for treasury Eric Meyer, senior commerce official Robyn Kessler, USAID deputy assistant administrator Megan Doherty, USAID West Bank and Gaza Mission director Aler Grubbs, development finance corporation senior advisor Kyle Murphy and other officials from the Departments of State, Treasury, Agriculture, Commerce and Energy; the US Agency for International Development; and the Development Finance Corporation.