Israel‘s economy grew an estimated 3.3% in 2012, its slowest pace in three years due to scant export growth, but still outperformed many other developed countries.
Growth slowed from a 4.6% spurt in 2011, mainly due to recessions in Europe, Israel’s largest trading partner, weak growth in the United States and slower growth in Asia.
Consumer spending and investments also grew more slowly in 2012 than a year ago, although public spending rose.
But while it lagged emerging economies such as China, which grew 7.5%, Israel strongly outpaced the 1.4% average growth rate for Western nations.
“Given the international situation, the Israeli economy is doing very well,” Shlomo Yitzhaki, the government’s statistician, told a news conference on Monday. He referred to the figures as “the best considering the current situation… Whether it’s because of the government or despite the government, I can’t say.”
The Bank of Israel predicts even weaker growth in 2013. Last week, it lowered short-term interest rates for the second time in three months, taking the key rate to 1.75%, and also lowered its 2013 growth projection to 2.8% from 3%, excluding natural gas output.
Israel’s growth was in line with central bank and Finance Ministry estimates but the weakest since 1.1% in 2009, falling short of the bureau’s initial estimate of 3.5%.
Europe’s troubles held back Israeli exports – more than 40% of economic activity – which grew 1% this year, largely due to a 22.1% drop in diamond exports, versus a 5.5% gain in 2011. Some 35% of exports go to recession-hit Europe.
Excluding diamonds, exports grew 4.2% this year.
Private spending growth slowed to 2.8%, while investment in fixed assets grew 3.7%, down from 16% in 2011. Government spending rose by 3.7%, faster than 2.9% last year.
Full story via YnetNews
“It is easier to be an entrepreneur in Israel than in Europe,” states Edouard Cukierman, French-born founder and chairman of the largest investment team in Israel. “But it’s easier to raise money in Europe for an IPO.”
That simple evaluation underlies the successful strategy of Cukierman & Co. Investment House, which since 1993 has been involved in raising about €4 billion mainly for Israeli startups and mature companies.
Cukierman, 47, spoke with ISRAEL21c days before the 10th Go4Europe Conference in Tel Aviv, the biggest event organized by an investment bank in Israel. Through this venue, Cukierman & Co. promotes cross-continental relationships in high-tech, biotech and green-tech.
“The first edition, in 1997, had 50 participants, while last year we had 1,200 including 400 that came especially from Europe,” he relates. “Every year we have more and more people interested in being exposed to Israeli technology and investment opportunities.”
While Israeli startups typically set their sights on North America, Cukierman points out that Europe was Israel’s first trading partner and is still the biggest world market in terms of purchasing power parity.
“If you look at the number of IPOs and funds raised through IPOs in Europe since 2005, more money was raised in Europe than in the US. Yet almost no Israeli investment bank had been looking at that market.”
Israel’s plastic bottle recycling is steadily growing and now rivals Europe, a new report by the Ela Recycling Association said.
According to the non-profit organization’s data, over five million plastic bottles and containers have been recycled in Israel over the past 10 years.
Israel recycles 50.3% of its plastic bottles – more than the United States (29.3%) and similar to Europe (51%).
Israel also recycles 77% of all glass bottles and cans.
“Consumers’ recycling habits and norms have been revolutionized,” Ela CEO Nehama Ronen told Ynet. “In about 8-9 years of intensive activity we’ve been able to catch up to Europe, which has been recycling for 25 years.”
According to Ela’s data, 61% of all containers are recycled, compared to 35% in 2002. The practice has saved Israel over 500,000 tons of waste that otherwise would have ended up in landfills.
Ronen noted that much of the change in the public’s behavior was due to the availability of recycling bins, which can now be found on nearly every street in Israel.
The designated bins have contributed to a rise of 20% in recycling – from 20% in 2002 to 40%.
Institutional recycling also contributed to the encouraging data: According to Ronen, over 20 million plastic bottles have been collected in schools alone over the past decade.
“We no longer have to explain why recycling is so important. Children are very aware of it today,” she said.
The IDF is also taking an active part in recycling efforts: According to the data, over 7.6 million bottles have been collected by the military, with Military Intelligence’s 8200 Unit holding the army’s recycling record.
Ronen noted that the religious sector has been making steady progress on the matter, adding that awareness is growing to the importance of plastic recycling in Druze and Arab communities as well.
The 41st General Assembly of the European Olympic Committees will be held in the resort city of Eilat in early December.
The conference, which will summarize the 2012 London Games and discuss preparations for the Rio 2016 Olympics, will be attended by delegations from 49 countries, heads of the International Olympic Committee, athletes and journalists.
A total of 400 representatives of National Olympic Committees and 300 other attendees are expected to arrive from abroad.
According to Eilat Deputy Mayor, “The conference, which will create a huge amount of exposure for Eilat, will last three days, but the guests are arriving for five days in which they will enjoy a series of events, including parties and tours.”
The executive committee of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) has approved a request made by Israel Securities Authority (ISA) Chairman Prof. Shmuel Hauser to join the European Regional Committee (ERC) as a full-fledged member.
The decision follows the unanimous approval of the request by the committee’s 24 members at the organization’s annual conference held in China last May.
The request was due to diplomatic restrictions preventing Israel from acting as an equal member in the Africa/Middle East Regional Committee (AMERC) since Israel joined the IOSCO.
Israel’s membership in the ERC will replace its membership in the AMERC.
On the backdrop of the political and security-related situation in the Middle East, the ISA has been prevented from attending the AMERC’s discussions and meetings, some of which are held in countries Israel has no diplomatic relations with.
“This is an honorable accomplishment for Israeli regulation,” said ISA Chairman Hauser. “This decision reflects the European recognition of Israeli regulation as professional and of high quality, meeting the highest international standards.
“This is an important step which brings us closer to mutual recognition of the quality of regulation in securities laws between Israel and countries of the European bloc, as part of the regulatory road map for the coming years in the capital market.”
Advocate Oranit Kravitz, director of the International Affairs Department, said that “one of the main goals of the road map is to increase the status of the Israeli capital market in the world, while building a regulatory infrastructure which meets the most advanced standards.
In addition, reinforcing regulation is crucial for dealing with the constitutional risks challenging the capital market in Israel and abroad. For this purpose we must cooperate with corresponding regulators, and one way to do so is through the European Regional Committee of the IOSCO.”
She added that the “ISA’s admission into the ERC is an important step in promoting the mutual recognition the ISA is working on with European countries, a step which will make capital raising possible for Israeli companies and allow Israeli companies to raise capital in Israel.”