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Israeli companies see PHL as attractive destination — envoy

By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter

ISRAEL companies, particularly startups, view the Philippines as a viable gateway to Southeast Asian markets, according to the Israeli Ambassador and the head of Israel’s economic mission in Manila.

“Asia is a growing market, and Israeli companies are becoming more and more interested in the markets here,” Ambassador Ilan Fluss told BusinessWorld on the sidelines of an Israeli tech startup pitch event at his residence in Makati City.

“The Philippines is also an entry point to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations,” he added.

He said the embassy is working closely with the Anti-Red Tape Authority to find ways to make it easier to do business in the Philippines.

“I think the important thing for an Israeli company is to have a good Filipino partner that will be able to guide them (in navigating) the economy,” Mr. Fluss said, noting the difficulties posed by bureaucracy.

Tomer Heyvi, head of the Israel Economic Mission to the Philippines, said more Israeli startups are showing interest in seeking investors from the Philippines.

“The Philippines is a rising star and there is a lot of interest from the Israeli companies in trade, commerce, but also, of course, in investment,” he told BusinessWorld.

Mr. Heyvi said there are more than 9,000 startups in Israel that are seeking partnerships to help them break through in various global markets, including the Philippines.

“Every year, we see an increase in the interest of Israeli companies. So, for me, it’s already an indication that they find this market interesting.”

According to the Central Bureau of Statistics of Israel, trade between the Philippines and Israel amounted to $532 million last year.

Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry said on its website that business services between both countries last year were mostly provided by Israeli startups and tech companies engaged in artificial intelligence-based platforms, cybersecurity, and financial technology solutions.

Dotan Sagi, chief executive officer of Israeli software development company Cinten, called for more support for tech accelerators.

“If the government invests in accelerators, hubs for young people that can work and understand the tech way of thinking and how to build a startup, it will be easier to work here,” he told BusinessWorld.