Israel has a population of 8.6 million and one of the world’s most highly educated workforces: it ranks fourth in the world (behind Canada, Russia and the U.S.) in terms of the percentage of working age adults that hold at least a college degree. In spite of its location in a volatile political region, Israel has a growing, highly developed economy with a focus on innovation and technology. The economy grew by 4 percent in 2016, placing it among the fastest-growing economies in the world. Although Israel does not rank among the top U.S. export destinations, a free trade agreement is in place between Israel and the U.S.; the U.S. is by far the highest source of Israeli imports, and U.S.-made goods are viewed favorably in the market. Wisconsin exported $83 million in goods to Israel in 2016, and this number has the potential to grow.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will be leading a global trade mission to Israel from Oct. 26 to Nov. 3, 2017, with a goal of helping Wisconsin companies forge profitable business ties with Israeli partners. The program will be based in Tel Aviv—Israel’s largest metro area, with a population of 3.8 million—with the potential for meetings in other cities as business opportunities may warrant.
Each participant in the global trade mission will be scheduled for one-on-one meetings with potential partners in the market. These partners are chosen specifically for each participating company. Each participant will also receive an Israel market assessment specific to their company, detailing considerations to keep in mind when introducing their product or service into these markets. With all your appointments arranged for you and market research completed in advance, you can focus on business rather than logistics and scheduling.
Even though Israel is at the center of a region with significant security and safety concerns, a traveler ito Israel is statistically safer than he or she would be in most major U.S. or European cities. Israel’s strict security screening procedures, particularly at international land and air borders, may cause some travelers slight inconveniences upon arrival, but they are designed to make the remainder of the traveler’s time in the country less worrisome. WEDC’s local contacts stay aware of current events and market conditions, and conduct background screenings of all potential local partners and customers before scheduling one-on-one meetings. Each trade mission participant can rely on having a driver for their one-on-one appointments who knows the local area and can help travelers stay in safer areas.
Israel’s consumer market is sophisticated, since the country’s standard of living is among the highest in the world. In the 2016-17 Global Competitiveness Report, the World Economic Forum ranked Israel the second-best place for innovation in the world (after Switzerland).
Israel is a leader in the digital health sector, and this sector grew significantly in 2016, with investment jumping by almost 30 percent to $183 million. Cyber-defense, automobile security, water technology, and the “internet of things” are other areas where Israel is strong. The high-tech sector, in particular, offers opportunities for U.S.-Israel commercial partnerships, specifically in information and communications technologies, safety and security equipment and services, renewable energy, defense equipment and biotechnology. The U.S. Commercial Service has identified travel and tourism supplies and equipment, medical equipment, automotive after-market parts and equipment, intelligent transportation systems, educational services, telecommunications equipment, electronic components, electricity generation and transmission equipment, and security equipment as U.S. products with strong sales potential in to Israel. Companies in the above-mentioned sectors are especially encouraged to participate in this global trade mission.
Israel’s business culture will seem familiar to Americans, although dress may be more informal and personal relationships sometimes play a greater role. Because Israel is on its own a small market, most Israeli firms already have global connections. Thus, Israeli companies may be able to introduce Wisconsin companies (such as component suppliers) to additional partners in other markets around the world.
This global trade mission will provide a good introduction to a market that many Wisconsin companies are overlooking. Israel is a suitable market for companies with some prior exporting experience.