Good evening and chag sameach
Thank you for having me here to celebrate Israel’s 64th birthday.
64 years as a democratic, independent state is a remarkable achievement.
One that many would never have imagined to be possible in years prior.
Your determination did not end in 1948, it only became stronger.
These have not been an easy 64 years. Every step of the way, Israel’s courage – your courage – has been tested.
But Israel’s tenacity through those tough times has spurred unparalleled innovation.
Israel is home to some of the top universities and technical institutes in the world.
It’s a country with leading edge research and innovation
in health sciences, biotech, chemistry, clean technology and the environment.
A country with more start-ups per capita than anywhere else in the world.
And to me, that’s the story of Israel.
I still remember my first experience in Israel.
I could see citizens committed to putting their families and communities first. Because the only way to build a country like Israel is by working together and for each other.
That same commitment is found here in British Columbia. You don’t just support your own families and community – which you do – but you are there for all of British Columbia and Israel too.
You are helping build British Columbia and Israel.
My primary mission is to make lives better for British Columbian families.
And to do that we are focused on creating and protecting jobs by strengthening our economy.
That means ensuring that our universities offer the best training, education andresearch.
It means getting government out of the way of the private sector and eliminating redtape that restricts business growth.
And it means opening doors and working with other innovative, forward-thinking nations.
As part of that initiative, I am pleased to announce today that MLA Moira Stilwell will be leading a BC delegation on a mission to Israel next month.
She will be joined by several other MLAs as well as key biotech and health leaders.
The purpose of this mission is find ways to work together to commercialize medical technology, something Israeli entrepreneurs have been doing for years.
We want to establish long-lasting business relationships between Israel and BritishColumbia.
And we want to spur even more innovation so we can create jobs that put food on dinner tables in both British Columbia and in Israel.
Support for Israel abroad makes a difference. That’s why you are here today. Every friend counts.
I’m proud that British Columbia can be counted as a friend of Israel’s.
I wish you all a happy Yom Ha’atzmaut. Chag Sameach.
Entrepreneurship and Mining in Israel and Jordan – an International Tour provides upper-year students at the Edwards School of Business an opportunity to experience international business culture while learning about the benefits of global business to Saskatchewan’s economy. The overseas portion of the course runs from April 30-May 10.
PotashCorp is supporting the course financially and with access to an expert in international business. Wayne Brownlee, PotashCorp’s Executive Vice President and CFO, will be joining the 16 students for one week – including visits to Arab Potash Company (APC) in Jordan and Israel Chemicals Ltd. (ICL) in Israel, companies in which PotashCorp has 28 percent and 14 percent ownership, respectively.
“PotashCorp’s people are our greatest resource and many of our best and brightest employees have come to us from the University of Saskatchewan,” said Brownlee. “We want the next generation of Saskatchewan’s business leaders to gain international perspectives and experience PotashCorp’s global reach firsthand.”
In addition to PotashCorp, the cost of the trip has been subsidized by other donors including: the Saskatchewan Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration; the University of Saskatchewan’s President’s Fund; The Hanlon Centre For International Business and Canadian Academics for Peace in the Middle East.
Students will meet their Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli peers studying at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and hear presentations on regional water issues and the environmental situation of the Dead Sea.
“There is no better way of developing sensitivity to global issues than by having students travel together with business leaders to see how commerce, ingenuity, antiquity and opportunity meld together,” said Daphne Taras, PhD, Dean of the University of Saskatchewan’s Edwards School of Business.
“Through our generous sponsors, we made sure that ability to pay was not an issue. We hand-picked a unique group of students who are surely ambassadors for Saskatchewan.”
Taras, the course director, is personally accompanying the students on the tour.
“We applaud the Edwards School of Business and PotashCorp for creating this opportunity for Saskatchewan students to gain valuable international business experience,” Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration Minister Rob Norris said. “Saskatchewan has an important relationship with Israel and Jordan in the areas of research, innovation and potash and this initiative helps to strengthen these ties.”
Meetings with the Canadian ambassadors to Israel and Jordan and visits to high-tech start-ups will be some of the highlights captured in video and posted on the course-related blog – www.esbtour398.ca – along with tweets using the hashtag #esbtour.
The Edwards School of Business develops business professionals to build nations. Giving students intensive opportunities to see other countries’ economies and Saskatchewan’s place within them makes them more sophisticated and knowledgeable when they are called upon to contribute at home.
Headquartered in Saskatoon, PotashCorp is the world’s largest fertilizer company by capacity, producing the three primary crop nutrients – potash, phosphate and nitrogen. With five potash operations in Saskatchewan, and one in New Brunswick, it is responsible for about 20 percent of global capacity. Its operations and business interests span seven countries, making PotashCorp an international enterprise and a key player in meeting the growing challenge of feeding the world.
Motorists who buy electric-powered cars and some hybrid cars are to get additional tax benefits in a bid to encourage more Israelis to purchase these greener models, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz announced on Sunday.
The new incentive involves lowering the purchase tax on certain vehicles that pollute less than standard internal-combustion vehicles, resulting in a saving of NIS 6,000 to NIS 10,000 for car buyers.
Under the new policy the tax on electric cars is being cut from 10 percent to 8 percent this year and next.
When it comes to hybrid cars, which run on a combination of electricity and gasoline, purchase tax will remain at 30 percent, but it was slated to go up to 45 percent.
Cars that run on a combination of gasoline and rechargeable batteries, which are called “plug-in” vehicles, will be subject to a lower, 20 percent purchase tax this year and next – a rate that will then gradually increase.
Finance Ministry officials say the benefits for Israeli car buyers who take advantage of the incentives are collectively worth NIS 130 million over the next several years.
Initial pro-environment tax rates were introduced about three years ago. The newly announced incentives are expected to result in cleaner air, with incidental benefits to the country including, for example, lower medical costs for respiratory illnesses.
Hybrid vehicles emit up to 50 percent less air pollution. Use of battery-powered vehicles can result in even more substantial pollution reduction, but the extent of the improvement depends on the source of the electricity used to power the cars, taking into account pollution generated at the electric power plant. Electric cars themselves, however, don’t emit air pollution and therefore result in immediate benefits in urban areas, where air pollution is a major cause of illness and even death.
Two Israeli executives at Iscar Ltd. have been named as candidates to succeed Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman and CEO Warren Buffett, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Buffett, who has run Berkshire Hathaway since 1965, recently announced that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. According to the report, the disease was detected early, and “his prognosis is good.”
Iscar is Berkshire’s Israeli-based cutting-tool division.
According to the WSJ, Buffett has said that members of Berkshire’s board have selected a successor whom they “know and admire,” as well as two backups.
However, the report said, he hasn’t disclosed the successor’s identity—even to the chosen person. WSJ asked two independent teams of financial researchers—Paul Tetlock and Tim Scully at Columbia Business School and Richard Peterson at Los Angeles-based investment firm MarketPsych—to analyze what Buffett has written about Berkshire’s divisional executives in his annual letters.
According to the report, both groups of researchers specialize in “textual analysis,” or the use of mathematical formulas to measure the frequency and positive or negative tone of language.
The researchers said Iscar CFO Danny Goldman scored the highest among current executives to whom Buffett has referred in emotional terms at least eight times. In 2009 Buffett referred to Goldman in a letter as “incredible.”
The researchers mentioned Jacob Harpaz, Iscar’s CEO, as one of the divisional CEOs to whom Buffett has referred at least four times in emotional terms.
The analysts found that Buffett has mentioned Ajit Jain, head of Berkshire’s reinsurance group, far more often than any other current division boss—102 times, versus 60 for the next most-cited, Tony Nicely of Geico.
Israel is the world’s foremost nation in terms of the availability of information to consumers, both de facto and de jure, according to the annual report released by Consumers International (CI), a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting consumer rights internationally.
This year, CI surveyed 48 Western national and several developing countries. Israel was ranked No. 1, followed by Indonesia, India, New Zealand, and the US.
“The organization sees information availability as the most important tool in the advancement of consumer rights,” explained attorney Uriah Yarkoni, who conducted the Israeli survey for the report.
“Intellectual property laws, and to a certain extent privacy rulings, control how information is transferred,” Yarkoni said.
“The basic principle in Western legal systems determines that the public’s right to information begins where intellectual property ends. For example, artists can’t prevent their work from being used in research. This means that the public has the right to use any work in the world for research purposes.”
Israel has intellectual property legislation enacted by the Knesset and is interpreted by the courts, becoming binding – or non-binding – precedents, Yarkoni noted.
“These make up the intellectual property rules in the country. They are well constructed, because until a few years ago there was very little money in Israel and therefore very few lobbyists in the field. Unfortunately, that’s changing,” the attorney observed.
In 2011, Israel did not participate in the survey, but in 2010 the nation was ranked No. 3, despite the lobbyists and the studios. What has changed since then? According to Yarkoni, Israel’s courts have made some “very good” rulings, alongside some “very bad rulings” by foreign courts.
In 2007, Israel passed a new copyright act, which replaced a law that had been based on British legislation from 1911, which was outdated and behind the times on technology.
The CI report addresses this, but not specifically, Yarkoni said.
However, Yarkoni added, there are still a number of gray areas, such as fair use or copying work for backup.
In dealing with these questions, he explained, each country needs to decide whose side it is on – the public and its right to information and free expression, or the copyright holders and their right to property. Israel, he said, has been identified as a country that prefers its citizens over intellectual property holders, which is why it led the list.
Israel remains one of the hottest housing markets in the world, according to a survey conducted by real estate agents Knight Frank and based on housing price increases from Q4 2006 until the last quarter of 2011.
According to CNBC, which published the survey, Israel ranks third with a five-year growth of 54.5% in housing prices. Israel beat Singapore, with a five year growth of 50.5%, but was far behind China (ranked 1st with five year growth of 110.9%) and Hong Kong (93.7%).
“High home prices in Israel led to a series of protests in 2011 with demonstrators asking the government to intervene to cool the market. Thousands of protesters made headlines last July to voice concerns over a housing shortage and high rentals. The demonstrations seem to have had an effect on property prices, which fell 1.2% in 2011, according to Knight Frank,” CNBC reported.
“However, after an interest rate cut from 3.25% to 2.5% in February, there appears to be resurgence in property demand, with new mortgages issued by banks jumping by more than 14% in March compared to the two pervious months.”
Colombia, the only South American country on the list, was ranked fifth with a five year growth of 50.5%.