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Israeli business chamber working on increasing investments to Phl

MANILA, Philippines - The newly-inducted board of the Israel Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ICCP) aims to increase three-fold Israeli investments to the Philippines within the next three years.

ICCP president Ferdinand Sarfati, in an interview on the sidelines of the ICCP General Fellowship Night, said at present there are only about $200 million worth of bilateral contracts between Israel and the Philippines.

“Our goal is to triple the bilateral contracts within the next two to three years,” Sarfati said.

He said they would focus on areas of tourism, agri-technology, water technology, security and defense, and telecommunication.

“The biggest part of our initiative will be on tourism,” he said, noting that the basic challenge for the group is how to create greater awareness between the two countries.

There was a notable rise in the number of Israeli tourists frequenting the Philippines for the past months.

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In the first quarter 2013, tourist arrivals from Israel increased 63 percent to 782 from 482 in the same period last year. But the share of the Israelis in the Philippine tourism pie was still below one percent.

“When you ask Filipinos about Israel the first thing that comes to their mind is a pilgrimage destination, but there is more than that and when you ask Israelis about the Philippines, the first thing that comes to their mind is Filipino caregivers. They do not know that we have a lot to offer especially in tourism, our place is fantastic, Israelis travel around the world but the last on their list is the Philippines because they do not know about our country so its crucial to create awareness,” he said.

Sarfati said they have been coordinating and forging partnerships with different chambers of commerce to accomplish this goal.

“We are an active member of the Foreign Chamber of Commerce and with various local-based chambers to get people connected,” he said.

The ICCP is a newly transformed private, independent and non-profit organization coming from a solid and respectable heritage of the Philippine Israel Business Association (PIBA).

ICCP’s mission is to encourage business-to-business networking within the Philippines and bilateral trade between Philippines and Israel. It aims to serve businesses, with the participation of its members, in promoting their long-term objectives while contributing to the civic, social and economic development of the Philippines.

Affiliated with the International Israel Chamber of Commerce, it likewise maintains a close liaison with other foreign chambers in Manila and other Philippine business groups, particularly the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI).

Judah Hirsch, ICCP vice president for public relations and Triple iConsulting managing director, said the group has lined up monthly activities which aim to foster greater cooperation among its members and strengthen bilateral connection with various industries.

Aside from Sarfati and Hirsch, the members of the ICCP board are: Itamar Gero (True Logic president) as vice president for internal affairs; Yftach Vaknin (Tourismo-Filipino Inc. CEO), VP for external affairs; Aireen de Guzman (Chesteel Marine and Industrial Corp. corporate secretary) as VP for finance/business development; Nancy Catan (Mapecon Philippines VP for finance) as treasurer.

Other members of the new ICCP board are: Rosemarie Galang (Ephesus Travel & Tours president) as chairman for membership; Eyal Kschapitzki (Kital Philippines president); and Moti Guthartz (ECI VP for sales and marketing) as board of trustees.

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