New Zealand Israel Business Update

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Since the last Israel Business update three months ago, there’s been some real progress in the bilateral trade relationship between Israel and New Zealand, with some developments flying under the radar and some progress making it to the news media.

The most important development was an announcement by the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) that a motion had been passed to ratify an innovation agreement between New Zealand and Israel. The agreement was initially signed in 2020, the result of a technology sector mission in 2016. Along the way, the agreement had become stuck somewhere within the Israeli bureaucratic system, and with some effort by well-connected people behind the scenes, the agreement was finally dislodged and pushed towards the final sign-off.  Unfortunately, at the time of writing, a small concluding procedure of swapping notes between the two Government has yet to be performed and so the agreement remains yet to be deemed ‘in force’.

In terms of public-facing activities organised by the New Zealand Israel Innovation Hub, there have been two speaking events, and one virtual event hosted as part of TechWeek2023.

The speaking events held in Auckland and Wellington were titled ‘New Zealand and Israel: An ideal match for tech partnerships and trade.’ The events featured NZIIH Executive Director, Josh Brown, who spoke about his perceived opportunities for partnerships in R&D, overseas commercialisation and manufacturing.  The Auckland event was hosted by AWS and Sir Peter Gluckman also spoke briefly about his time leading an NZ delegation to Israel and his thoughts on the bilateral relationship. The Wellington event was hosted by CropX and CEO Eitan Dan spoke about his innovation helping farmers around the world (more info about CropX below).

The online event titled “How to take on the climate crisis as an innovation nation” featured respected climate experts Daniel Rosenfeld, Yosef Abramovitz and Ethy Levy of Kinneret Impact Ventures. This session featured a sharing of ideas on how small, advanced economies, can powerfully, and profitably, take on the climate crisis.

In addition to the events, Joey Sacharow Israel Director of the NZIIH, represented the organisation at the recent ANZAC day memorial at Mount Scopus in Jerusalem and also spoke briefly at the dedication of the Silver Fern Memorial at Moshav Gan Sorek which was held on the 30th of April. Although the dedication does not directly impact the bilateral relationship, the Silver Fern memorial works to bind the countries historically and provides a base for the building of a trusting trade relationship.

In terms of more broader trade-related news;

  • the most important announcement over the past few months was that Israeli-based startup CropX has closed a $30 million Series C round to fund expansion and Acquisitions. The company was founded in NZ in 2013 has gone grown rapidly. Its innovation works to synthesize data gathered from the earth and sky to offer soil and crop intelligence.
  • Some important travel news is that El Al has announced it is seriously considering opening a direct route from Tel Aviv to Melbourne. This expected to launch in 2024 and will cut travel times significantly and should boost trade between the regions. This announcement follow’s Oman’s declaration that it is opening its airways to all carriers.
  • The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has just released another report shining a positive light on Israel as a potential trading partner. The report released last week looks at the Free Trade Agreement recently ratified between Israel and the UAE, and the possible implications this could have for New Zealand exporters. This FTA was made possible by the signing of the Abraham Accords.

Lastly, for those with access to NBR, NZIIH Executive Director Josh Brown, published an article in the NBR titled “Could New Zealand be the ‘startup nation’ of the South Pacific?”. The article is worth five minutes of your time and identifies mutually beneficial partnership opportunities between NZ and Israel’s tech sectors.

This news update is provided by the New Zealand Israel Innovation Hub. The ‘Hub’ facilitates collaboration, communication and enterprise between New Zealand and Israel’s tech sectors. It also takes on a business council role by advocating for trade in both directions.