At the annual Israel Export awards at his official residence on Wednesday, President Reuven Rivlin told exporters that they are a source of inspiration, a proof of excellence and creativity, and a triumphant force of breakthroughs and innovations.
He was full of admiration for the fact that they had been able to continue production and export during Operation Preventive Edge, especially in the face of so many boycotts from abroad.
In this respect, he told them, “you are standing on the front lines, in the first line of fire, and therefore face a double challenge.
In addition to tough regular competition on global markets, you have to confront additional challenges because you are Israelis.”
Nonetheless, he said, despite these difficulties, exporters are forging ahead with “another Jewish patent, a rare medication, the development of an exotic fruit or a unique hi-tech program that defies the imagination.”
All these phenomena are inadequate, no matter how useful or of how high a standard they may be, Rivlin noted, because exporters have the additional challenge of having to answer for Israel’s politics and policies, about the operation in Gaza, about an air strike by the Israel Air Force, or about the proposed legislation of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.
“You not only produce goods but represent the picture of Israel’s excellence in all your transactions,” Rivlin told the exporters.
Israel’s first export agreement was signed with Hungary in 1949, Rivlin recalled. At that time Israel agreed to send paint, chemicals, threads, citrus fruit and false teeth to Hungary.
Since then, Israel’s range of exports has increased enormously, and the volume of trade has increased 16,000- fold from $6 million to $95 billion said Rivlin.
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, participating for the first time in an event at the President’s Residence, said Israel has no choice but to be innovative, because it cannot compete with China in commodities.
“We have to continue our approach from a unique perspective,” he said.
Boycotts notwithstanding, Israel’s exports continue to grow, and during the second half of this year surpassed the total for the same period in 2013, said Bennett.
His advice to exporters is: “Stop apologizing. Don’t lower your heads. Don’t be afraid.”
Outstanding Exporter prizes are awarded in three categories: small, medium and large. Small exporters have exports ranging from $5m. to $20m. per annum, medium from $20m. to $50m. and large from $50m. upward.
In addition, there is the Israel Export Prize, which is awarded to a company whose exports exceed $50m.
and that has, in the space of a decade, made a significant contribution to Israel’s overall exports and manufacturing and marketing image abroad.
The Export Prize for 2013 was awarded to Keter Plastics, which was founded in the same year as the state, expanding from a small toy manufacturing and household appliances enterprise to a company of seven production plants with 1,200 employees, sales in the range of $1b. and exports to 90 countries.
There is also a prize for a multinational company operating in Israel in accordance with the criteria of the OECD.
Only one company is selected from among the many global companies with branches in Israel, and the choice is also made on the basis of that company’s contribution to the periphery, to society in general and to the environment.
The winning multinational company for 2013 is Applied Materials, which operates in 22 countries and has more than 1,000 employees in Israel.
The outstanding exporters are Turbine Jet, F. Robotics Acquisitions, Lumus Ltd., Maytronics Ltd., Kafrit, A. Meshi Cosmetic Industries, and Niru Diamonds.