Israel’s trade with Asia grew 4% to $14.5 billion in 2005. Exports grew 5% to $6.17 billion, and imports were up 3.3% to $8.33 billion, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor foreign trade administration reports.
These figures are substantially higher than those recently cited by the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute, which reported only a 2.2% rise in exports to Asia. The Export Institute’s figures include industrial exports, excluding diamonds, while the foreign trade administration includes diamond exports in its figures.
Nevertheless, the 4% increase in Israel’s trade with Asia, including diamonds, lagged behind the rise in Asia’s total trade, which exceeded 7%. The Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labor’s efforts to boost trade with Asia included classifying four Asian countries out of six countries worldwide as preferred export target. Many Israeli delegations visited Asian countries.
The preferred targets in Asia are China, India, and South Korea, to which Vietnam was added in 2006. The Export Center opened an Israel trade center in China last year, and a similar center is planned this year in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). The new center will aid Israeli exporters in penetrating Vietnam, whose 2005 growth was 7%, third highest in Asia, after China and India.
The Export Institute found that industrial exports to Asia, excluding diamonds, fell by 10% in dollar terms in the fourth quarter of 2005. Exports rose 1% to the European Union, and fell 5.7% to the US and 8% to the rest of the world.
According to foreign trade administration director of Asia Pacific division Amiram Halevy-Laher, Asia accounted for 17% of Israeli exports and 20% of Israeli imports in 2005.
Israeli exports to Asia, which grew rapidly in recent years, grew more slowly in 2005. Other than exports to India and Hong Kong, which jumped 17% in 2005, exports to Asia were unchanged in 2005.
Growth in imports from Asia also slowed in 2005, although imports from China were up over 20% to over $2 billion. Halevy-Laher attributed the slowing of export growth to the halt in the rapid rise in Israeli exports to China over the past decade. Israeli exports to China dipped 7% to $725 million in 2005.
Hadas Manor 29 Jan 06