Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought”
1. Time is running in Israel’s favor, as evidenced by the “global economic walk” and irrespective of the “global political talk.”
In 1948, Israel had no significant export. In 2010, Bank of Israel documented a $6.7BN current account (mostly trade balance) surplus, featuring the US, Europe, India and Turkey as the chief trading partners. The NY-based “Trading Economics” reported a $1BN Israeli current account surplus in the 1st quarter of 2011. Israel is a global leader in medical, telecommunications, software and defense industries.
2. Israel is NOT isolated or boycotted: 3.45MN tourists visited Israel during 2010 – proportionally equal to 138MN tourists visiting the USA (60MN tourists visited the USA in 2010, an all time record).
3. Israel-Turkey trade volume surged 140% since the Islamic party, AKP, assumed power in 2002: $3.45BN in 2010 compared with $1.4BN in 2002. The 1st quarter of 2011 features a 40% increase over the 1st quarter of 2010 (Hurriyet Daily News, May 30, 2011 and Oct. 31, 2009).
4. A game changer: From a nearly total reliance on imported energy, Israel will become – by 2014 – a major exporter of natural gas.
5. Silicon Israel: In 1992 there was no venture capital activity in Israel. In 2011 Israel’s high tech attracts the leading global companies (e.g. Microsoft, GE, Intel, Siemens, IBM), VC funds (Sequoia, Greylock, OrbiMed, Accel), investment banks (e.g. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley) and private investors (e.g. Warren Buffett, Eric Schmidt) in the world. 2nd quarter 2011 investment in Israel’s high tech grew 19% over the 1st quarter and 66% over the 2nd quarter of 2010.
6. In defiance of geopolitical constraints, limited natural resources and global economic turbulence, Israel sustains growth: 5.2% GDP, 3% (of GDP) budget deficit, 5.7% unemployment, 2.7% inflation, 3.25% interest rate, stable currency (the Shekel is one of the 14 globally-traded currencies), $75BN foreign exchange reserves. War and terrorism have been bumps on the road of an impressive growth.
7. Gallup wellbeing poll, April 19, 2011: Israel is rated 7th, following Denmark, Sweden, Canada, Australia and Finland, ahead of New Zealand, Holland, Ireland, USA, Austria, Brazil, Britain, Mexico, etc.