Despite its size, Israel is currently the world’s top exporter of drones and the world’s co-leader (along with the U.S.) in the development, manufacturing and launching of small and medium-sized satellites. It is the second-largest cyber exporter in the world, with receipts three times larger than those of Britain. With the continued discovery and development of offshore natural gas reserves, Israel is also an emerging natural gas power.
Multiple industry reports tell the same story: The Israeli economy has posted impressive gains matched by few economies in the world, and its performance now positions the tiny country as one of the most attractive centers for investors. In February the 2014 International Monetary Fund report on Israel stated that despite the country being “exposed to a series of economic shocks, including the global crisis and heightened geopolitical tensions in the Middle East,” its GDP has grown by an average of 4 percent over the past five years, compared with 0.7 percent for OECD countries. “Per capita GDP grows more rapidly [in Israel] than in other OECD countries,” the report emphasized.
In 2013, the three leading credit rating companies maintained high ratings for Israel while lowering that of other developed countries. Meanwhile the OECD’s annual 2013 report found that Israel is the fourth most attractive country for foreign direct investment per GDP with a rating of 4 percent, compared to 1.6 percent in the top 16 economies.
Commenting on these dazzling achievements, Ambassador Ettinger sent a message for the “boycott and divest” anti-Israel activists: “In contrast to those who wish to boycott Israel, 2013-2014 has highlighted Israel’s expanding trade and investment global network, especially with the surging economies of China, India and South Korea,” he pointed out.
The emergence of the Asian economies has given Israel an alternative trading partner to Western countries that are becoming increasingly critical of Israel. “The dramatic expansion of Israeli exports to India, China, South Korea and other Asian markets has bolstered our ability to withstand European and American pressure on Israel,” Ettinger told Tazpit News Agency.
“When Israel becomes the largest defense exporter to India it will certainly strengthen our relations with one of the strongest emerging economies in the world,” he went on to say. “When we develop unique medical and defense and energy and satellite technologies, that makes it more difficult on the world to pressure Israel, due to the growing need for Israeli-developed and manufactured products.”
The analyst pointed to several factors and “unique resources” that have propelled Israel to consistent economic success in the face of global economic upheavals and the slowdown of the Western economies. One is the country’s renowned intellectual capital, including the world’s highest per-capita supply of scientists and engineers. However, Ettinger explained that it is actually the challenges facing Israel, rather than advantages, that have spurred innovation and development.
For instance, the unique limitations posed by its desert geography have led Israel to develop unique agricultural technologies, such as the drip irrigation now used around the world. The comprehensive lack of natural resources, fresh water, arable land and living space has fostered an innovation mentality among Israeli entrepreneurs, leading to the development of unique niches in its agricultural, energy and commercial industries.
Beyond these hurdles, Ettinger told Tazpit, is the unexpected benefit of coping with a “unique security challenge that has confronted us with systematic war and terrorism, prompting a series of cutting-edge technologies in response to such challenges and threats.”
He noted that “Israel’s defense forces have had to respond to the continuous challenge posed by the hostile military forces and terrorist organizations equipped with military systems supplied to them by many countries.” As a result, he said, “the IDF has established its own hi-tech force which has not only generated defense technologies but has also given birth to numerous commercial applications of those defense technologies.”