GAD PROPPER 58.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel’s bilateral trade with New Zealand is expected to escape unaffected from
Tuesday’s devastating earthquake in Christchurch, despite preliminary reports
that the damage bill could reach several billion dollars.
6.3-magnitude earthquake hit New Zealand’s second- largest city Tuesday
afternoon, killing at least 75 people. Local news agencies reported that the
damage could be worth up to NZ$16 billion (US$12b.), making it the
second-costliest earthquake in history after the one that hit Los Angeles in
However, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key was quoted by local
media as saying the government could absorb the costs, while credit rating agency
Moody’s Investors Service said the country’s AAA credit rating would remain
New Zealand’s Honorary Consul to Israel Gad Propper told The
Jerusalem Post Wednesday that as far as he was aware, no Israeli companies had
been affected by the tragedy. Bilateral trade had been largely protected by its
minimal scope and by being concentrated in a few niche areas, he
Trade between the two countries totals about $120 million annually,
of which some $100m. comes from Israeli exports, mainly in the fields of
technology and telecommunications.
Of those, geothermal power company
Ormat Technologies provides the most significant presence in New Zealand,
operating several power stations on the country’s North Island. Those facilities
were far enough from the quake’s epicenter to escape damage, an Ormat
representative told the Post.
Tourism is the other big area of exchange
between the two countries. Propper said about 10,000 Israelis, mainly
backpackers, travel to New Zealand each year.
“In the last few years
there has also been the emergence of what I call business-class tourists, which
is people in an income bracket that allows them to travel for long periods of
time,” he said.
Propper said two separate groups of Israeli volunteers
had contacted his office to inquire about joining rescue efforts in
Christchurch, where several hundred more people were still reported
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor
Lieberman both offered assistance to their New Zealand counterparts by telephone
following the earthquake, but they were told it wouldn’t be required.