Sunday, August 28, 2016

Growth shows global confidence - Yoram Ettinger

by Yoram Ettinger

According to the Huffington Post: "The emergence of Israel as a small, but significant, player on the world stage is one of the remarkable developments at the end of the post-Cold War era.

Chinese telecommunications conglomerate Xinwei recently announced it would be acquiring Israeli satellite operator SpaceCom for $285 million. In 2015, Chinese companies invested about $500 million in Israeli companies. Israel's trade balance with China is $11 billion -- 10% of Israel's overall trade balance -- double the trade balance in 2010, far from the $50 million in 1990. 

Chinese companies are investing more in Israel than ever before, and Israeli companies and government officials are returning the embrace. China is increasingly investing private and government funds in Israeli high-tech, agro-tech, and irrigation companies. In 2015, China's Bright Food bought control of Israel's Tnuva for $2 billion, and in 2011 China's National Chemical Corp. acquired Israel's Adama, a pesticide and crop protection company, for $2.4 billion. Taiwan's General Mobile Corporation acquired MassiveImpact, an Israeli advertising technology company, for tens of millions of dollars. 

The Israeli high-tech industry is not the sole interest of foreign investors. 

Automotive giant Ford, which is determined to develop a driverless car by 2021, recently made its first acquisition of an Israeli company, SAIPS, a computer vision and machine learning company, and Israel's NLT was acquired by the San Diego-based SeaSpine for $54 million in milestone payments. The Minnesota and Ireland-based Medtronic, the world-largest standalone medical technology company, acquired an additional 3.4% of Israel's Mazor Robotics for $20 million, expanding its ownership to 7.27% of Mazor. Israel's Insightec concluded a joint venture agreement with Germany's Siemens, following a similar agreement with GE. 

The $3.3 billion raised by Israeli startups since January, 2016 may break the $4.4 billion annual record set during 2015. Intel invested in three Israeli startups, expanding its Israeli investment portfolio to 80 startups with $345 million invested since 1997. 

In 2016, the three leading global credit rating companies reaffirmed their confidence in the long-term viability of Israel's economy. 

Standard & Poor sustained an A+ rating with stable outlook, Fitch upgraded Israel's credit rating outlook to "positive," while retaining its A rating, and Moody's sustained an A1 rating with stable outlook. 

Israel's government debt-to-gross domestic product ratio, the Achilles' heel of most countries, has been reduced from 100% in 2002 to 63.9% in 2016, compared with the euro bloc's 90.7% and the OECD's 94%. Israel's unemployment rate has declined to 4.8%, compared to the OECD average of 6.3% and the euro bloc's 10.1%. 

Israel's IDE is second on Fortune Magazine's Change the World List of companies, which have had a positive social/business/innovation impact. IDE builds and operates major desalination plants in Israel and 40 additional countries, such as the U.S. China, Mexico, etc. In Carlsbad, Southern California, IDE operates the largest desalination plant ($1 billion) in the Western hemisphere, transforming seawater into potable water, providing 8% of San Diego county's water, at a cost of less than 0.5 cents per gallon of drinking water, which amounts to an additional monthly cost of only $5 per homeowner.

According to the Huffington Post: "The emergence of Israel as a small, but significant, player on the world stage is one of the remarkable developments at the end of the post-Cold War era. … With a flourishing economy of $300 billion and nearly $40,000 GDP per capita ... its military was rated by the Institute for the Study of War as pilot to pilot and airframe to airframe, the best air force in the world. ... Israel's extensive work on air defense with the U.S. makes it a serious military power. ... Its intelligence capabilities are formidable.

"With over 250 foreign companies creating research facilities in Israel, its strong high-tech capability has been rated by the University of Lausanne as one of the top five world powers in this key area. ... Apple has invested over a billion dollars in creating a hardware development center with 800 employees. ... Three of the world's most powerful countries have invited Israeli companies to work with them in high tech [the U.S. Russia and China]. Israel is also developing a strong relationship with India: $5 billion in trade, which could multiply to $15 billion if the two sides decide to create a free-trade zone. Israel is the second-largest exporter of arms to India, preceded only by Russia."

Yoram Ettinger


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