Israeli chamber seeks increased farm, tech investments in PHL

Posted on July 04, 2016

THE new president of the Israel Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ICCP) hopes to attract more Israeli businesses to the Philippines, with a focus on agriculture and information and communications technology.

Israel Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines President Itamar Gero -- TRUELOGIC
ICCP President Itamar Gero told reporters: “It would be ICT and agriculture. Why? Because your country would benefit so much from better IT infrastructure, and better ways of creating local demand for produce,” he said on the sidelines of the chamber’s induction of new officers.

“So this is what Israel is really good at. Taking small spaces, putting green houses, putting advanced technology for food and for heating and irrigation.”

The ICCP, organized in 2009 under its former name, the Philippine-Israel Business Association, currently has a membership of 50 companies, which Mr. Gero wants to double within his term.

Mr. Gero, who is also CEO of digital marketing firm TrueLogic Online Solutions, Inc., estimated trade between the two countries at “tens of millions” of dollars, depending on various official estimates.

“I can’t give you an accurate number, but what I can say is that in my term we will work on at least doubling it which is not a hard task because it’s still kind of stagnant.”

Other than ICT and agriculture, he also expects Israeli businesses to channel investment and expertise in sectors such as medical care and tourism.

“They are recognizing the Philippines as a viable tourist destination. Israelis used to go to Thailand. Israelis used to go to India. All of a sudden there is an influx of Israelis coming to the Philippines, all the way to Israeli hoteliers coming to see about opening hotels here.”

Meanwhile, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries President George T. Barcelon, who was keynote speaker at the event, said on the sidelines that trade with Israel is small, but growing with the latter focused more on helping micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises in the Philippines.

“It’s been growing. I think we’re buying more from them. Our exports are electronic components. They are the ones that assemble it,” he said. “They’re looking at the MSMEs, to invest in small companies.” -- Roy Stephen C. Canivel