Despite a population of just 7.7 million people, Israel is America's 20th-largest customer in the world, surpassing Russia and Spain. Warren Buffett's first foreign investment was a $4 billion stake in Iscar, an Israeli tool manufacturer. "I believe in the Israeli market and the Israeli economy," Buffett explained. Between 2000 and 2009, direct U.S. investment in Israel totaled $77.2 billion, while Israelis invested $51.4 billion in the United States. More than 25 years ago, America's very first free trade agreement was signed -- with Israel.
Google, Microsoft, IBM, Intel, AOL, and Motorola are just some of the high-tech companies with major research and development operations in Israel. In addition to providing software and hardware for most American computers and mobile phones, Israel also pioneered the USB flash drive, the ingestible microcamera, advances in drip irrigation, and the portable MRI. Through Better Place, the world's first comprehensive electric-car system, Israel is poised to help Obama achieve his goal of placing 1 million electric vehicles on America's roads by 2015. "It's no exaggeration to say that the kind of innovation going on in Israel is critical to the future of the technology business," observed Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates on a 2005 visit to Israel. After the United States and China, Israel is the most represented country on the Nasdaq stock exchange.
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