The growth in industrial exports to the European Union is expected to continue to grow this year, albeit at a slightly slower rate, according to the Israel Exports Institute, which said Sunday they may reach $10b.
"We expect industrial exports to the EU to grow 6% this year after having grown 13.5% to $9.4b. in 2006," said Yehiel Assia, director-general of the IEI. The figures do not include diamond exports, the IEI noted.
The biggest increase in exports last year were in sales to Malta, which grew 150% to $56.5 million, while exports to the Czech Republic grew 66.5% to $105m.
Israel's main trade partners in the region also showed significant growth for the year as exports to France rose 36% to $937m., to Germany by 33% to $1.65b. and exports to Spain jumped 30% to $814.5m.
On the downside, exports to Britain dropped 1.5% to $1.3b. while sales to Belgium decreased 5% to $797m.
As part of its efforts to boost trade with European countries, the IEI said it is planning, this year, to send 13 delegations with around 100 participants in the fields of defense, software, jewelry, construction, life sciences, electronics and environmental technology. This year will also see 15 European delegations with over 200 businessmen arrive in Israel looking for joint projects in similar sectors.
The institute estimated that some 32 meetings involving 4,300 businessmen will take place under its framework during the year aimed at "increasing exports to the EU and deepen [ Israel 's] penetration there," the IEI said.
Meanwhile, a government delegation from Turkey, whose membership in the EU is still pending, arrived in Israel over the weekend to discuss standardization issues, which may be halting trade between the two countries.
The delegation included members of the Turkish Standards Institute who will meet with their Israeli counterparts during the visit.
"Israeli exports to Turkey are inferior compared to EU countries in issues of standardization," said Ziva Patir, director-general of the Israel Standards Institute. "Exports [to Turkey] require checks that European exports do not require."
Israeli exports to Turkey dropped 5% to $838m. in 2006 from the previous year, the IEI said, while imports rose 4% to $1.27b.