Local industry generated $2.4 billion from exports to Asia in the first half of this year, an increase of 17 percent from last year, the Israel Export Institute reported on Wednesday. "In the first six months of 2007, industry exports to Asia, not including diamonds, rose 17% mainly driven by exports to India, which jumped 59% to $306 million and exports to South Korea which rose 34% to $366m. during the same period," said David Artzi, the Institute's chairman. The Institute estimates that industry exports to Asia, excluding diamonds, will increase by 14% to $5b. in all of 2007 after growing 16% to $4.4b. in 2006. Israeli industry exports to China increased 11% during the six-month period, generating $424m., while shipments to Japan rose 13% to $361m. Furthermore, industry exports to Asian countries such as Azerbaijan, the Philippines and Vietnam picked up dramatically in the first half. Exports to Azerbaijan surged 470% to $59m., shipments to the Philippines were up 51% at $109m. and exports to Vietnam amounted to $35m., an increase of 88%. At the same time, the growth was offset slightly by exports to Taiwan, which fell 18% to $266m. In addition, exports to Singapore dropped 3% to $176m., shipments to Malaysia were down 12% at $32m. and deliveries to Thailand fell 4% to $65m. Separately, the Manufacturers Association of Israel said exports of locally manufactured drugs rose 6% to over $1.5b. in the first half of 2007 compared with the same period last year, as the Israeli pharmaceutical industry now ships to some 120 countries. In the first six months of the year, exports of Israeli drugs to the European Union rose by 42% to $252m., while shipments to the US, which make up 75% of all exports, fell 2% to $1.1b. as a result of the drop in prices of generic drugs in the States, according to Haim Horvitz, chairman of the Association's pharmaceutical division. Exports of local pharmaceuticals to Holland grew by 123% to $75.3m., deliveries to Spain rose by 75% to $3.4m., exports to Germany increased by 46% to $32.7m., exports to Italy rose by 40% to $3.7m. and shipments to France grew by 113% to $17.3m. Horvitz added that exports of locally manufactured drugs also expanded in Eastern Europe and the Far East. Exports to Russia rose by 72% to $11.9m., exports to Hungary increased by 48% to $13.6m., exports to China expanded by 25% to $1.76m. and shipments to Australia were up by 10%. At the same time, Horvitz called on the government to make health organizations and hospitals here give preference to buying locally produced drugs in an effort to continue to support and strengthen an industry that employs 7,000 people.