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Israelis aim to triple trade with Manila

Filipino and Israeli businessmen aim to triple bilateral trade amid glowing partnership prospects.

During a business forum on Monday, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) President Miguel B. Varela said two-way trade between the Philippines and Israel amounted to as much as $250 million last year.

“These numbers can grow in an unprecedented pace in the next few years,” Varela said, citing growing interest from both sides to boost trade and investment relations.

The Philippines was among the first countries that voted for the establishment of the state of Israel.

“We came here as a friend of the Philippines. We would like to succeed and innovate together with you, collaborate with you,” said Ran Cohen, a former Israeli industry and trade minister and current Israel-Asia Chamber of Commerce president.

Filipino businessmen invited their Israeli peers to invest in the Philippines’s tourism, mining and agriculture sectors.

In a presentation, Alphaland Development Inc. President Mario A. Oreta said Israeli arms traders should “not be disheartened” even as a contract eyed last year with the Philippine National Police (PNP) fell through.

Taiwan-based Israeli trade attaché Doron Hemo admitted that Israel “did not focus” on the Philippines before, as shown by the absence of a permanent commercial attaché from Israel.

But with the Philippines’s improving economy, the 15-man business delegation from Israel is eyeing prospects in machinery, general trade, security and safety, real estate, customs brokerage, water treatment, agriculture, food production, aviation, business-process outsourcing, remittance, shipping, water technology, tourism, seed technology and diamonds trade.

Eran Keler, chief executive of Israeli diamonds trader Yes Diamonds said the market for the gem is growing not only in the Philippines but also throughout the Far East.

Keler said Filipinos are among those who troop to Hong Kong to purchase diamonds.

Because Filipinas are fashionable, jewelry and gems like diamonds are expected to sell well here, Keler said, adding that he is looking for a Philippine partner that would distribute the diamonds that the company imports from South Africa.

“Diamonds are much more expensive [than gold and silver] but I think in the Philippines its market is increasing,” he said.





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