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Industrial exports to the extended European Union, excluding diamonds, grew 10.6 percent to $8.3 billion in 2005, due primarily to a rise in trade with Belgium, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Cyprus, the Israel Export Institute said Sunday.
IEI analysts said, however, that increased competition within the Union resulting from its inclusion of countries in eastern Europe and the Mediterranean could make exporting to the EU more difficult for Israeli manufacturers despite the gaining strength of the euro and recovery of hi-tech sector, which alone could help further narrow Israel's trade gap with the EU.
Nonetheless, the institute predicted that exports to the EU would grow by another 10% to about $9.1b. in 2006.
To help boost industrial exports to the continent, the institute plans to organize 15 delegations to Europe, including 160 Israeli business representatives, and to participate in 25 trade shows there alongside 220 companies, in the course of the year.
Israel exported $842.1 million worth of manufactured goods to Belgium in 2005, more than 25% more than the year before. Industrial exports grew 14% to $1.29b. to the UK; nearly 16% to $645m. to Spain; almost 14% to $704m. to France; and more than 20% to $158.1m. to Ireland.
Among the newer EU members, industrial exports to Slovenia grew fully 174.3% to $58.7m. and 107.5% to $8.3m. to Estonia but they fell 45% to $21.3m. to Latvia; 37% to $22.5m. to Malta; 9.7% to $63.2m. to the Czech Republic; and 5% to $71.6m. to Hungary. Israel exported $115.4m. in industrial goods to Finland in 2005, nearly 7% less than in 2004, and $188.5m. to Greece, 19.1% less than the year before.
According to the institute, Israeli industrial exports to Poland grew 18.1% to $139.7m. in 2005.
Overall trade between the countries expanded 17% to total some $250m., with total Israeli exports to Poland rising 21% to $146m.
Separately, the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry said a representative of US-based automotive part maker Delphi Corp. was in Israel to investigate possibilities of doing business with domestic car part manufacturers.
The visit followed contacts between Israel's economic attache in Poland and the company's European headquarters in Krakow, and is an expression of Delphi's strategy of deepening links with suppliers in Europe and surrounding regions, the ministry noted.
Delphi would train supplying partners chosen to ensure that their operations meet the standards required of its suppliers, the ministry said.