Israeli hi-tech hit as Toyota, Chinese CEO cancel visit amid Trump decision

If business people shy away from visiting due to possible unrest, that could affect future investments in Israel.

December 9, 2017 18:48
1 minute read.
Israeli hi-tech hit as Toyota, Chinese CEO cancel visit amid Trump decision

The Toyota logo. (photo credit: REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE)

At least two hi-tech delegations from China and Japan canceled planned visits here for fear of unrest due to US President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, TheMarker reported.

Executives from Japanese automaker Toyota, along with the CEO of China’s Singulato Motors – which manufactures small electric cars – were reportedly planning to travel to Israel this weekend.

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If businesspeople shy away from visiting due to possible unrest, this could affect future investments in Israel. Cancellations may not be limited only to east Asia.

And tourists worldwide could refrain from visiting Israel due to multiple travel warnings issued by the United States and European countries, hitting hard local hotels and the overall economy.

On Saturday morning, several Israeli start-ups got word that Shen Haiyin, CEO and founder of Singulato, canceled his planned trip just hours before the flight, The- Marker reported. Haiyin was set to embark on a whirlwind schedule of meetings with auto-tech start-ups.

Representatives for Toyota Israel and Singulato were unavailable for comment as of press time.

Citing security concerns, the Chinese Embassy issued a travel warning calling upon its citizens to refrain from unnecessary travel to Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.

Separately, a large Chinese life-science delegation was scheduled to arrive on Saturday, attorney Michal Tzhori told TheMarker. “After the Trump declaration, the group began to raise concerns and doubts about the security situation in Israel,” says Tzhori.

In recent years, a significant amount of venture capital for Israeli start-ups has come from Chinese firms. Chinese investors poured some $16.5 billion into Israel in 2016, according to Reuters data, investing in cybersecurity, medical devices and Internet start-ups.

And Chinese construction firms have invested in major Israeli infrastructure projects, from Tel Aviv’s light rail project to a new cargo port in Ashdod on the Mediterranean Sea.

Toyota AI Ventures has previously invested in Israeli companies; earlier this year it poured $14 million into Israeli AI firm Intuition Robotics – which seeks to develop social robots that can act as an active aging companion.

In a visit last month by the managing director of Toyota AI Ventures, Jim Adler told Reuters that “we will see more involvement of Toyota in the Israeli market in the future,” including in local start-ups focusing on autonomous driving. Toyota has also previously hosted hackathons in Israel.

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