MANILA — Israel was hoping to increase its bilateral trade with the Philippines to over $1 billion next year, its top diplomat said Monday.
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said his country was optimistic that the target amount could be breached after Manila and Tel-Aviv’s bilateral trade reached over $500 million in 2022.
“In 2022, our bilateral trade for the first time overpassed half a billion dollars. I think this is only the beginning. We can overpass $1 billion in 2024,” Israel's top diplomat said at a business forum in Makati City on his second day visiting the country.
“This is something that is definitely achievable… I think the markets in the Philippines is very attractive,” he added.
As of 2022, the Philippines and Israel’s bilateral trade is pegged at $534 million in goods, data from Israel’s Economic & Commercial Mission to the Philippines showed.
The figure is “an impressive 70 percent Year-Over-Year growth rate, driven by the rebounding of both the Israeli and Philippine economies in 2022 following the Covid-19 crisis,” according to the agency.
Around half of Israel’s over $300 million worth of exports to the Philippines consist of electronics, defense-related items, agriculture, chemical fertilizers, and medical device, said Tomer Heyvi, Head of Israel’s Economic and Commercial Mission in the Philippines.
“From the Philippines we also see a similar behavior. We see in the electronics industry a lot of exports from the Philippines to Israel as well as mechanical equipment, consumer goods,” he said.
Israel sees the Philippines as “a very soft-landing country,” Heyvi said.
“It’s English-speaking. For Israel, it’s a very soft-landing country, very welcome, but also the business opportunities are vast if you talk about agriculture, if you talk about digital connectivity, if you talk about cybersecurity, homeland security and other areas so we see a lot of opportunities there,” he said.
“We want to see more and more Israeli companies work here in the Philippines… I think the Philippines is an attractive country in the region,” he said.