Benjamin Netanyahu told Walmart senior executive John Furner that he wants to use his power as prime minister to bring Walmart, the world's largest retailer, to Israel, "Bloomberg" reports. The two men met at the World Economic Forum in Davos, according to Netanyahu's economic advisor Avi Simhon. Simhon said that Netanyahu and Furner discussed the idea of Walmart opening a retail branch in Israel and investing in Israeli technology, but provided no further details.
"We made it clear we are ready to ease regulatory burdens wherever possible to make the market more accessible to them. The door to Netanyahu’s office is open,” Simhon told "Bloomberg."
A Walmart spokesperson declined to comment on the substance of the discussion. A low-cost retail chain's doing business in Israel could aid the government's efforts to lower the cost of living.
Israel has received R&D investments in the billions of dollars from multinationals like Intel, Apple, and Google, but has had difficulty attracting retailers to its small economy, which is incapable of becoming a business center in the region because of poor relations with other countries there. As Israel's growing population becomes wealthier and increases its consumption, however, retailers like Amazon are becoming more eager to do business here.
At the World Economic Forum, "Bloomberg" added, Netanyahu also met with CEOs of Japanese and South Korean companies, among them Mitsubishi. Israel is over-dependent on investmens from the US and China, and Simhon says that Netanyahu wants to diversify the country's sources of investment.
"The prime minister decided to put the emphasis on these two key Asian economies during our meetings there," Simhon told "Bloomberg," "Our message to these companies was that we're open for business. The Prime Minister's Office is here to make their path smoother and easier."
Following the passage of tax cuts in the US late last year, Netanyahu declared that Israel needed to consider whether it should also revise its tax system. Simhon is in charge of leading tax reform in Israel, and plans to give a report to Netanyahu in the coming weeks.
"What’s become clear after the Trump tax cut is that we can’t sit back and watch,” Simhon said. “We need to make some drastic changes here, too, to make sure we stay attractive to overseas investors,"
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on February 4, 2018
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