Israel sees a big potential for stronger trade, tourism, and diplomatic ties with the Philippines, said new Israeli Ambassador Rafael Harpaz.

An important role of government, he added, is to create the conditions for nurturing business and one way to do this is to cultivate good political relations with other nations.

He explained during his courtesy call to the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) that his activities in the Philippines, which involved meeting local executives and business groups, serve to complement the four-day visit of President Rodrigo Duterte in Israel.

Israeli Ambassador Rafael Harpaz

OPPORTUNITIES. Israeli Ambassador Rafael Harpaz talks about trade and tourism opportunities with officers of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) during a courtesy call last October 23. Beside Harpaz is CCCI vice president for external affairs and relations Charles Kenneth Co.

 

Harpaz said there were special agreements signed between Israel and the Philippines during that visit, including business to business and government to government deals. He mentioned the oil exploration agreement that the Philippine government entered into with an Israeli company.

Israel has a lot to offer the Philippines, from innovations in agriculture and water management to new technology products, the Israeli ambassador also said.

“Your challenge is water management and quality. We can help you with this. Our challenge is not having enough water so we developed new sources. Saving water is also in our DNA,” Mr. Harpaz added, citing that Israel also excels in agriculture. Food security is one area where Israel and the Philippines can work on together.

He said his country also appreciates the role of Filipino caregivers, and the two countries recently inked a deal to regulate their working conditions. It is also looking at opening the hotel industry to Filipino workers, he further said.

Israeli Ambassador Rafael Harpaz

TRADE LINKS. Israeli Ambassador Rafael Harpaz with officials of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

 

According to Mr. Harpaz, the two countries can also benefit from increased tourism activities, noting that Filipinos do not need a visa to visit Israel. Many Filipinos travel to Israel as part of a pilgrimage tour to the Holy Land.

He also said they’re working on having direct flights between the Philippines and Israel as one way of further boosting tourism, adding he is confident that it will serve to increase visitor arrivals in both countries.

Israel might not manufacture mobile phones but it is responsible for many applications running on these devices. Waze, after all, was created by an Israeli startup, which is also behind other technology products pertaining to travel, transportation, and finance.

The Philippines in general and Cebu in particular can benefit from big companies in Israel outsourcing the manufacture of new products born out of research and development in Israel.

Israeli Ambassador Rafael Harpaz

PRESS CONFERENCE. Israeli Ambassador Rafael Harpaz answers questions of Cebu journalists during a press conference after a courtesy call with the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry. With him are Honorary Consul of Israel in Cebu Emily Benedicto-Chioson (standing), his wife Shulamit, and Deputy Chief of Mission Yulia Rachinsky-Spivakov .

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