California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Israel’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Benjamin Ben-Eliezer signed a renewable energy R&D cooperation agreement today.

The cooperation agreement will promote Israel-California strategic R&D in renewable energy and environmental technologies by establishing joint ventures between Israeli renewable energy companies and municipal authorities in California. The agreement will also boost mutual investment and foster research collaboration.

Ben-Eliezer said, “This important agreement can boost research by these two sun-drenched states, and facilitate cooperation between researchers and industrialists on both sides. Both states are well-known worldwide as having strong renewable energy capabilities… “

ISRAEL21c has reported on the world’s largest solar energy deal signed in February this year by Israel’s BrightSource and Southern California Edison.

Schwarzenegger is visiting Israel to attend the sixth Saban Forum, hosted by the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy. The Saban Forum is an annual dialogue between representatives from government and business sectors, policymakers, journalists and academia.

US-Israeli trade totaled $17 billion in January-September 2009, including $12 billion in Israeli exports to the US, and $5 billion in imports. Israeli exports to the US were down 12 percent compared with the corresponding period in 2008, and imports were down 25%, reports Globes, Israel’s leading online business news service.