Fischer to Japanese: Invest in Israel

Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor says there is substantial but untapped potential for economic cooperation between the two countries.

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer called upon investors and companies in Japan to increase their investments and economic ties with Israel on a visit to the country this week. "The event has drawn substantial interest from Japanese companies and investors, who have invested $500 million over the past few years in Israel," said Amiram Halevy-Laher, foreign trade administration director of the Asia Pacific division at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, which organized a meeting with the presidents of Japan's top 12 investment houses who hold $250 billion in assets, and with representatives of Japanese companies with investments in Israel. Fischer urged the participants to invest in Israel. Among those attending were Goldman Sachs Japan, Nomura Securities, BNP and Nikko. The meeting was part of an investors forum organized by the foreign trade administration of the ministry in Japan. Boaz Hirsch, director of the bilateral trade agreements division at the ministry said that in view of the renewed momentum in the Japanese economy and the volume of trade with Israel, which was low in proportion to the size of the Japanese economy, there was substantial but untapped potential for economic cooperation between the two countries. In 2006, trade with Japan totaled $2.3b. During the same year, exports to Japan, mostly electronic machines and instruments, optical devices, medical equipment, chemical products and diamonds, rose 2 percent to $763m. over the previous year. Imports from Japan rose 13% to $1.53b., with vehicle imports rising 45% and imports of electronic machinery and instruments up 30%. During his trip, Fischer also met with Tokyo's finance minister, central bank governor and leaders from the foreign and finance ministries. Fischer traveled this week to Japan and Germany in an effort raise support for Israel's bid to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development as a full member. On Thursday, Fischer met during a one-day trip to Germany with German president Hoerst Kohler, Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck and Interior Affairs Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.