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Doing Business in Israel
2014 Country Commercial Guide for U.S. Companies

INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT, U.S. & FOREIGN COMMERCIAL SERVICE AND U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE, 2014. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES.

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Chapter 1: Doing Business in Israel

Market Overview Return to top

  • The U.S. is Israel's largest single country trade partner. Since signing a Free Trade Agreement in 1985, Israel–US trade has grown eight-fold. Since 1995 nearly all trade tariffs between the U.S. and Israel have been eliminated.
  • In 2013, GDP growth increased to 3.3%, from 2.9% in 2012. GDP growth in 2011 was 4.6% and 5.7% in 2010.
  • Israel’s GDP in 2013 was $272.7 billion.
  • In 2013, Per Capita GDP (PPP) increased 1.4% to 130,800 shekels ($36,200). In 2012, GDP per capita increased 1.5 percent.
  • Israel’s 2013 inflation rate was 1.55%, down from 2.1% in 2012 and 2011.
  • Israel’s 2013 unemployment rate was 6.2%, compared to 6.3% in 2012 and 5.6% in 2011.
  • Exports of U.S. goods (not including diamonds) to Israel in 2013 were $8 billion, compared to $8.92 billion in 2012 and $8.02 billion in 2011. In 2010, exports of U.S. goods to Israel totaled $6.8 billion.
  • U.S. imports from Israel (not including diamonds) in 2013 were $13.9, the same as in 2012. In 2011: $13.8 billion. U.S. imports from Israel in 2010 totaled $13.2 billion.

Market Challenges Return to top

  • Israel is a mature market in many sectors and U.S. companies will face significant local and international competition.
  • Agriculture trade regulations, IPR protection weaknesses, certain technical standards and regulatory uncertainties in the natural gas sector are non-tariff barriers. US Export Control regulations for re-exports are perceived as a challenge by Israeli manufacturers.
  • The political and security environment is tense because of the geopolitical neighborhood.
  • The business environment and style will seem familiar to Americans, though dress seem more informal and personal relationships play a greater role.

Market Opportunities Return to top

  • Hi-tech and defense dominate Israel's trade numbers, and Israel remains a global center for hi-tech design and R&D. Hi-tech continues to provide opportunities for U.S.-Israel commercial partnerships, specifically in ICT technologies, safety and security equipment and services, renewable energy technologies, defense equipment, medical technologies and biotechnology products. Power generation and education/training also represent good opportunities.
  • U.S.-Israeli commercial linkages often consist of U.S. firms providing electronic inputs which Israeli firms integrate into final products destined for re-export.
  • Road technology and infrastructure projects could offer millions of dollars' worth of export opportunities for U.S. firms over the next five years, especially since Israel adopted U.S. standards in intelligent transportation systems.

Market Entry Strategy Return to top

Distribution methods vary by type of product.

  • Commissioned Agents: used mainly for industrial equipment, raw materials and commodities.
  • Non-Stocking Agents: used mainly by manufacturers.
  • Stocking Agents: used mainly for high volume items.
  • Importers/distributors: used often for consumer goods.
  • Franchising: since its introduction to Israel in the mid-1980s, franchises have increased in popularity. ACE Hardware, Office Depot, Re/MAX, McDonalds, Toys-R-US, UPS, and FedEx all operate in Israel.

Direct marketing is fairly common.

  • Door-to-door salesmanship is uncommon in Israel and is considered a nuisance.
  • Cable and satellite TV offer shopping channels.
  • Direct marketing is common through mail order booklets that are distributed monthly by credit card companies and through the Internet. An “opt-in” spam law was introduced to Israel in late 2008. Companies can only send individuals spam if the individual agrees in advance. Political and charity mailings are exempt.
  • Mobile phone marketing through messaging is common, but with mixed results.
  • Internet use in Israel is widespread and represents a good marketing avenue.

The Government of Israel encourages both joint ventures and licensing.

  • Joint ventures are the most popular method of cooperation for Israeli firms, especially in technology-related industries.
  • Israeli businesses prefer obtaining five-year licensing agreements with automatically renewable clauses that extend the agreement for another five years.
  • A Commercial Agents Law became effective in 2012. The law specifies advance notice of termination of a relationship related to the duration of the supplier/agent contract and monetary compensation of the agent for the loss of potential profits.
  • Manufacturing under licensing agreements is common in Israel.
  • Israeli businesses prefer licensing agreements in which the licensor takes equity with the licensee.
  • The norm for royalties is 4-5% of turnover. Higher rates are common for luxury articles, author's fees and specialized machinery.
  • A 10-15% withholding tax on royalties and fees is often deducted at the source.
  • Licensees may repatriate royalties through an authorized bank, and are entitled to claim an income tax deduction on royalties and fee payments.
  • U.S. companies should seek advice from a respected law firm and accounting firm when figuring tax liabilities.
  • The United States and Israel have signed a tax treaty to avoid double taxation.

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Chapter 2: Political and Economic Environment

For background information on the political and economic environment of Israel, please click on the link below to the U.S. Department of State Background Notes.

Specific country link for Israel:

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3581.htm

The following is the new link to the Background Notes countries index:

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/index.htm

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Chapter 3: Selling U.S. Products and Services

Using an Agent or Distributor Return to top

Partnering with a local representative who has good industry contacts, proven reliability, loyalty, technical skills and after-sales service capabilities is important for selling and maintaining a continued presence in Israel. U.S. companies need to be aggressive in their pursuit of business opportunities and maintain an active in-country presence.

The Israeli industry generally prefers to purchase goods through a local agent that will be able to provide after-sales service. Government and government-owned buyers will often require an agent in Israel. The majority of agents have exclusive representation rights because of Israel’s small size. Most U.S. heavy industrial equipment exporters to Israel use a commission agent who conducts promotional campaigns and active buyer calls.

The most common approach used by exporters of light industrial equipment and consumer goods is to obtain a local importer/distributor. Distributors will import on their own account, and carry sufficient stock to satisfy ongoing demand or use for demonstration, maintaining their own sales organization, supplying spare parts and, if applicable, maintaining a service division. Local representatives often provide legal support for ongoing operations.

In concluding a representation agreement U.S. companies should be sure to include:

1. Contract duration;

2. Exclusivity (if applicable);

3. Compensatory amount as a function of contract duration in case of termination of exclusivity;

4. Promotional input by agent and volume of sales; and

5. Dispute settlement mechanism, either by arbitration, or by assigning a tribunal (preferably U.S.).

Israeli law defines the following legislation that regulates the termination of supplier-agent/distributor relationships:

Advance Notice of Termination:

According to the law, the supplier must notify his agent in advance of the intended termination of the relationship between them as follows: 

  • A two week advance notice for a relationship that lasted up to six months;
  • A one month notice for a contract signed 6-12 months earlier;
  • A two month notice to terminate an agency contract signed 12-24 months earlier, etc.
  • Up to a maximum advance notice of six months for a relationship that lasted 6 years or longer.

Financial Compensation:

The compensation paid to the commercial agent upon termination must be commensurate to the size of the business developed as a result of the agency agreement. The compensation shall be in the amount of the average monthly profits resulting from sales of the supplier’s goods/services over the last three years of the agency relationship multiplied by the number of years the relationship lasted. The compensation cannot exceed 12 months of the average monthly profits. The agent shall not be entitled to compensation from the supplier if the termination is due to breach of contract by the agent. In case of legal action, the Courts have the right to reduce the amount of compensation or deny compensation entirely if the Courts find justification to do so.

For additional information about the Israel Contract Agency Law please visit the U.S. Commercial Service website at: http://export.gov/israel/doingbusinessinisrael/eg_il_058074.asp

and: http://export.gov/israel/doingbusinessinisrael/eg_il_058061.asp

Establishing an Office Return to top

U.S. firms can operate in Israel as a foreign company, a foreign partnership or by establishing a branch office. There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of Israeli companies or securities, however, the Israel Antitrust Authority may review and object ownerships that would result in a cartel or market monopoly. Israel allows repatriation of foreign investment capital and profits. Prior to establishing an office in Israel, U.S. firms should evaluate tax ramifications under the U.S.-Israel Agreement on the Prevention of Double Taxation. Possible higher corporate and income taxes in Israel should be weighed against other expenditures and marketing advantages.

U.S. businesses interested in establishing an office in Israel are required to register with the Registrar of Companies at the Ministry of Justice. The business must file a copy of documents certifying that it is incorporated in the United States, state its objectives and rules, and list its directors and the name of its Israeli representative. If these documents are in English, they must be accompanied by a Hebrew translation. There is no requirement for the managers or directors of the company to be Israeli citizens or residents. However, U.S. representatives assigned to manage the Israel office must first obtain work permits from the Employment Service Division of the Ministry of Economy. Authorization from the Ministry and, if applicable, the Investment Center, is necessary before the Ministry of Interior can issue a visa. U.S. businesses establishing an office in Israel are advised to consult with a local accounting or law firm.

Franchising Return to top

The franchise industry in Israel has developed rapidly in recent years, opening new opportunities for US franchise brands to enter the vibrant Israeli economy. Israel’s GDP ranks within the top 40 countries in the world and many well-known American brands are already present here, mostly under master franchise agreements. These brands include Payless Shoes, Forever 21, American Eagle, Gap, Cinnabon, McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza, Bobby Brown, Steve Madden, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Nine West, and others.  Auntie Annes and Children’s Place are expected to open their first stores in Israel during 2014. Other well-known US brands have shown interest in finding master franchisees in Israel. 

 

About a third of the total franchises operating in Israel operate in merchandising, with the vast majority in the apparel and fashion industry. American popular food-chains have also taken a prominent place in the Israeli market. Other franchises focus on services such as real-estate, brokerage and educational institutes.  Most common are: ReMax, Realty Executive, ERA, Century 21, Wall Street English and Berlitz to name a few. Israel has no official centralized legislation for franchises, so the industry’s rules and regulations are primarily derived from Israeli contract law and intellectual property legislation. 

 

Recently, a number of independent franchise consulting and brokering companies have established themselves to offer professional services to the Israeli franchising community, including the Israel Franchise Promotion Centre, Franchise Business Brokers (FBB) and the Israel Franchise Institute. As of today there is no government endorsed franchise association serving the franchising industry.  

Direct Marketing Return to top

Direct marketing is common via mail inserts and internet promotion by local banks and credit cards. Door-to-door sales are uncommon in Israel and considered a nuisance. It is illegal to conduct unsolicited marketing via telephone, email and text messaging. Direct marketing and Internet sales play a small role in relation to total retail sales as Israeli consumers enjoy shopping as a popular pastime; Multi-level marketing (MLM) companies find prosperous grounds in Israel, mainly among Russian speaking population that can help expand the brand to East Europe. Many of the local MLM leaders also play key marketing roles in Russian speaking markets.

Joint Ventures/Licensing Return to top

Creating a joint venture with a foreign corporation is one of the most popular methods of cooperation for Israeli firms, especially in technology-related industries. Manufacturing under a licensing agreement is also common in Israel. The Government of Israel encourages both methods of operation. Chapter 6 of this guide provides further information on investing in Israel. Israeli businesses strive to obtain licensing agreements for a five-year period, with an automatically renewable clause that would last for another five years. They prefer agreements in which the licensor takes equity with the licensee.

The norm for royalties is 4-5% of turnover, although higher rates are common for luxury articles, author's fees, and for specialized machinery. A 10-15% withholding tax on royalties and fees is often deducted at the source even though the actual payment of this amount of tax by the representative is not clear. The licensee may repatriate royalties through an authorized bank by producing a statement from a certified accountant. The licensee is entitled to claim an income tax deduction on royalties and fee payments. It is advisable to seek advice from a respected law firm and accounting firm when trying to calculate tax liabilities. The U.S. and Israel have signed a treaty to avoid double taxation.

Selling to the Government                                                                Return to top

Israel is a signatory to the WTO government procurement code. Under the 1993 Public Procurement Law, all Government of Israel (GOI) entities and government-owned companies are required to procure goods or services by issuing a tender. In 1995, the Knesset approved the Preference for Israeli Products regulations and the Mandatory Commercial Cooperation regulations.

The "Preference for Israeli Products" regulations stipulate that a 15% preference be given to Israeli manufacturers for certain items exempted by the WTO and for products with at least 35% Israeli content and with a value not exceeding US$500,000. Israeli manufacturers in "National Priority Zones" receive an additional 5-15% advantage.  "Mandatory Commercial Cooperation" requirements are an integral part of each international tender document valued at $5,000,000 or more. The regulations require foreign companies to enter into offset agreements.  These agreements are administered by the Industrial Cooperation Authority (ICA).  For civil contracts the value of the offset commitment is 20% of the contract value for companies in countries that are signatories to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) of the WTO and 35 percent for other companies.  The offset for defense contracts is 50% of the contract value however, according to ICA officials, FMF-funded defense purchases are exempt from sanctions and 50% offset demands. Instead, U.S. defense firms are encouraged to negotiate industrial participation contracts at 35% of the contract value.  According to ICA regulations, the final offset decision must be to the commercial benefit of the foreign company.  A short explanation of the policy is available at the ICA website.  While the foreign firm is required to make every effort to fulfill its offset obligations, there is no penalty connected with a failure to do so if the effort is made in good faith. However, due to the importance the GOI attaches to commercial cooperation, failure to fulfill one's obligations may result in a lack of success in future tenders.

The Industrial Cooperation Authority (ICA), a division of the Ministry of Economy, is responsible for administering, negotiating and monitoring the implementation of offset agreements. The agreements may be for local subcontracting, investment in Israel, technology transfer, R&D contracts, or procurement of Israeli products. The first four options are preferred because of their potential long-term impact on the Israeli economy.  By court ruling, the use of industrial cooperation as a factor in the award process is not allowed. However, in the competitive Israeli market, the industrial cooperation arrangements made by foreign companies play a decisive role in the competition. U.S. companies interested in selling to the GOI are strongly advised to appoint a well-connected local agent to assist in dealing with the Israeli bureaucracy. In public tenders for large projects, in which the public entity is looking for involvement of foreign companies, the tendering party has several tender options, including:

  • Open International Tender, requiring the foreign bidder to partner with a local firm, or use local subcontractors.
  • Closed International Tender, following an open or closed pre-qualification process.
  • Open or Closed National Tender, requiring Israeli prime bidders to team up with foreign companies.

As a result of the extensive use of closed tendering processes, foreign companies will not always be aware of major tenders.  U.S. companies interested in additional information on specific tender opportunities or on Israel’s public tender process in general are advised to contact Senior Commercial Specialist Irit van der Veur.   

Distribution and Sales Channels Return to top

Distribution methods vary by type of product. For industrial equipment, raw materials and commodities, manufacturers use non-stocking commissioned agents, while stocking agents represent high volume items. Agents will often insist on exclusivity due to the small size of the country. Most consumer goods are sold through importers and distributors, but increasingly large retail chains and department stores import directly without intermediaries. In most cases, distribution firms serve the entire country.

Roughly 40% of Israel's 8 million people are concentrated in the greater Tel Aviv metropolitan area, Israel's commercial and financial center. Other major concentrations of the population are the Haifa metropolitan area (15%), a major port city and center for the petrochemical and high tech industries, and Jerusalem (11%). Almost all goods are imported through Israel's two Mediterranean ports, Haifa in the north and Ashdod in the south, and through Ben Gurion International Airport. These ports have good transportation links to the rest of the country. While most companies are headquartered in the Tel Aviv or Haifa metropolitan areas, a growing number of firms maintain branches, showrooms, or service facilities in Jerusalem and Be'er Sheva.

Consumer malls and shopping centers are popular in Israel. Over 200 malls and shopping centers exist and others are planned. Many American specialty shops, chain stores, and franchises have their outlets in malls and shopping centers. Key to success is offering an increasing variety of new products and services to the Israeli consumer.

Selling Factors/Techniques Return to top

For first-time exporters to the market, it is important to note that distinct cultural differences between Israel and the United States may in some cases dictate changes in selling, advertising, and marketing. Although many strategies used by firms in the United States can be equally effective in Israel, U.S. companies are advised to not automatically assume that selling in Israel is the same as selling in the domestic U.S. market. Companies should carefully research the implications of promotional activities prior to their implementation in Israel.

Electronic Commerce Return to top

Internet use in Israel is widespread and increasingly used for marketing and sales. An estimated 5.2 million Israelis, or 70% of the population, regularly accesses to the Internet. Like in other developed countries, e-Commerce is represented by a balance of B2B and B2C sites. Israel has a variety of B2C online stores, banking and bill payment sites and increasingly, government services. Companies are using B2B models to exchange documents, catalogues, and even complete deals. Major e-Commerce categories include travel services (36%), entertainment electronics (30%), computers & electrical products (29%), photos, books and games (23%), and digital software and various files (19%). The Internet is also heavily used by Israelis for social networking, information gathering and news.

Trade Promotion and Advertising Return to top

Aggressive product promotion and advertising are effective tools in Israel, especially for consumer goods, where brand image is important and U.S. products face fierce competition from local and European suppliers. There are several effective means of advertisement; through commercial television and radio. Channel Two is a commercial Israeli TV station broadcasting nationwide and is permitted by law to carry private TV commercials, while state-owned Channel One carries sponsored advertising by public corporations. Some Israeli and internationally broadcast cable stations also carry advertisements. The state-owned Kol Israel (the Voice of Israel) radio station broadcasts commercial ads via two of its channels. In addition, 13 privately owned and authorized regional radio station operators accept commercial ads. Digital printing and commercial graphics are widely used in Israel, including billboards that cover entire building facades.

Pricing Return to top

Israel is a highly competitive market and price is a key factor in purchasing decisions by Israeli companies and consumers. Presenting U.S. products as high quality at fair market prices is a good long-term sales strategy. Distributors prefer exclusivity and a special pricing clause should be incorporated into representation contracts. Israel’s VAT is 18%. The VAT is charged on virtually all services and products, including imports, sold in Israel (except fresh fruits and vegetables). The VAT on imports is levied on the CIF landed cost plus purchase tax. VAT is recovered by the importer upon resale of the goods and is ultimately paid by the consumer. Israel levies purchase taxes on many consumer goods. The GOI reduced or eliminated the tax on more than 600 items since 2000, including televisions, washing machines, electrical appliances and cosmetics. Purchase tax on standard vehicles with combustion engines is 83%. Hybrids 30% and Electric vehicles 10%.

Sales Service/Customer Support Return to top

The Ministry of Industry, Trade & Labor requires that all businesses provide adequate after-sales service and customer support. Regulations exist that oblige local distributors to provide customers with full technical support for a period of up to ten years. To increase competitiveness in Israel, U.S. businesses should include a clause related to after-sales service and client support in their contracts with local representatives.

U.S. firms should ensure that their local representatives receive adequate and ongoing customer service training and technical support. The time between a product failure and the time to repair is one of the main issues affecting purchasing decisions by Israeli companies and government-owned entities. Providing reliable, long-term, after-sales service is the key to successful sales of most products and services.

Protecting Your Intellectual Property                                             Return to top

Israel is a member of the WTO and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).  It is a signatory to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the Universal Copyright Convention, the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, and the Patent Cooperation Treaty. Israel was obligated to implement the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) by January 1, 2000. The United States continues to encourage Israel to accede to the WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty (commonly known as the WIPO Internet Treaties), particularly in view of the importance of Israel's high-technology software and telecommunication industries.

In February 2010, Israel reached agreement with the U.S. to modify its Intellectual Property laws to address shortcomings in its treatment of new pharmaceutical products related to data exclusivity, patent term extension and publication of patent applications. Israel finished completed enactment of the specified corrective legislation in January 2014. 

As a result of Israel’s intellectual property regime deficiencies, it was on the Special 301 “Priority Watch List” from 2005 until 2012 and also for 12 of the past 16 years.  The other four years - including the past year - it has been on the Watch List.  In response to the enactment of the legislation specified in the 2010 agreement, Israel was removed from the Watch List in February 2014.

Israel has increased its budget, educational, police, and judicial resources devoted to the enforcement of the country’s copyright and trademark laws. In addition, Israel passed amendments to its copyright laws that should make it easier for law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and judges to pursue, prosecute, and punish copyright crimes.  Please see the Investment Climate Statement (Chapter 6) for more up to date information, specifically on the ongoing negotiations between Israel and the USTR on patent term extension.

Protecting Your Intellectual Property in Israel: Return to top

Several general principles are important for effective management of intellectual property (“IP”) rights in Israel.  First, it is important to have an overall strategy to protect your IP.  Second, IP is protected differently in Israel than in the U.S.  Third, rights must be registered and enforced in Israel, under local laws.  Your U.S. trademark and patent registrations will not protect you in Israel.  There is no such thing as an “international copyright” that will automatically protect an author’s writings throughout the entire world. Protection against unauthorized use in a particular country depends, basically, on the national laws of that country.  However, most countries do offer copyright protection to foreign works under certain conditions, and these conditions have been greatly simplified by international copyright treaties and conventions.

Registration of patents and trademarks is on a first-in-time, first-in-right basis, so you should consider applying for trademark and patent protection even before selling your products or services in the Israeli market.  It is vital that companies understand that intellectual property is primarily a private right and that the US government generally cannot enforce rights for private individuals in Israel.  It is the responsibility of the rights' holders to register, protect, and enforce their rights where relevant, retaining their own counsel and advisors.  Companies may wish to seek advice from local attorneys or IP consultants who are experts in Israeli law.  The U.S. Commercial Service can provide a list of local lawyers upon request.

While the U.S. Government stands ready to assist, there is little we can do if the rights holders have not taken these fundamental steps necessary to securing and enforcing their IP in a timely fashion.  Moreover, in many countries, rights holders who delay enforcing their rights on a mistaken belief that the USG can provide a political resolution to a legal problem may find that their rights have been eroded or abrogated due to legal doctrines such as statutes of limitations, laches, estoppel, or unreasonable delay in prosecuting a law suit.  In no instance should U.S. Government advice be seen as a substitute for the obligation of a rights holder to promptly pursue its case.

It is always advisable to conduct due diligence on potential partners.  Negotiate from the position of your partner and give your partner clear incentives to honor the contract.  A good partner is an important ally in protecting IP rights.  Consider carefully, however, whether to permit your partner to register your IP rights on your behalf.  Doing so may create a risk that your partner will list itself as the IP owner and fail to transfer the rights should the partnership end.  Keep an eye on your cost structure and reduce the margins (and the incentive) of would-be bad actors.  Projects and sales in Israel require constant attention. Work with legal counsel familiar with Israeli laws to create a solid contract that includes non-compete clauses, and confidentiality/non-disclosure provisions.

It is also recommended that small and medium-size companies understand the importance of working together with trade associations and organizations to support efforts to protect IP and stop counterfeiting.  There are a number of these organizations, both Israel or U.S.-based.  These include:

  • The U.S. Chamber and local American Chambers of Commerce
  • National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)
  • International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA)
  • International Trademark Association (INTA)
  • The Coalition Against Counterfeiting and Piracy
  • International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC)
  • Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
  • Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)

IP Resources

A wealth of information on protecting IP is freely available to U.S. rights holders.  Some excellent resources for companies regarding intellectual property include the following:

  • For information about patent, trademark, or copyright issues -- including enforcement issues in the US and other countries -- call the STOP! Hotline: 1-866-999-HALT or register at www.StopFakes.gov
  • For more information about registering trademarks and patents (both in the U.S. as well as in foreign countries), contact the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) at: 1-800-786-9199.
  • For more information about registering for copyright protection in the US, contact the US Copyright Office at: 1-202-707-5959.
  • For more information about how to evaluate, protect, and enforce intellectual property rights and how these rights may be important for businesses, a free online training program is available at www.stopfakes.gov.
  • For US small and medium-size companies, the Department of Commerce offers a "SME IP Advisory Program" available through the American Bar Association that provides one hour of free IP legal advice for companies with concerns in Angola, Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Mozambique, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam. For details and to register, visit: http://www.stopfakes.gov/business-tools/international-ip-advisory-program
  • For information on obtaining and enforcing intellectual property rights and market-specific IP Toolkits visit:  www.StopFakes.gov  This site is linked to the USPTO website for registering trademarks and patents (both in the U.S. as well as in foreign countries), the U.S. Customs & Border Protection website to record registered trademarks and copyrighted works (to assist customs in blocking imports of IP-infringing products) and allows you to register for Webinars on protecting IP.
  • The U.S. State Department has positioned IP attachés in key markets around the world. The IP attaché in Israel can be contacted at:

Charles Brown (from 08/2014)

Trade and Economic Officer

U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv

Office: +972- 3-519-7547

Email: conklindc@state.gov

Due Diligence Return to top

American firms interested in doing business in Israel are advised to perform due diligence before concluding any kind of business deal in the market. The U.S. Commercial Service in Tel Aviv can counsel U.S. companies on potential partners and provide background information on companies and individuals via the International Company Profile (ICP) service. An ICP provides information about a local company or entity, its financial standing, reputation in the business community and includes a site visit to the local company and a confidential interview with the company management. For information please contact Senior Commercial Specialist Irit van der Veur at: irit.vanderveur@trade.gov

Most American banks correspond with the leading Israeli banks, such as Bank Leumi and Bank Hapoalim, and can provide due diligence information. It is advisable, especially when working with new clients, to seek verification from a corresponding U.S. bank on the authenticity of documents stemming from the Israeli banking system.

Local Professional Services Return to top

Please see the list of local “Business Service Providers” on CS Israel’s website: http://export.gov/israel/businessserviceproviders/index.asp

Web Resources Return to top

Ha’aretz

The Jerusalem Post

Globes

The Jerusalem Report

Industrial Cooperation Authority

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Chapter 4: Leading Sectors for U.S. Export and Investment

Commercial Sectors

Agricultural Sectors

Travel & Tourism Return to top

Overview Return to top

The Israel outbound travel market accounted for over 3.9 million departures by Israelis by air during 2013. The U.S. market share was 10% with 390,000 departures. This market offers a considerable room for growth. Israeli travelers to the United States spend an estimated $1.5 billion per year on travel-related services, not including airfare. The average expense per traveler per day in the United States is $300 including lodging, meals and shopping. The average length of stay is 12 days. According to a recent survey by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the majority of Israelis who travel to the United States are visiting family (44%). Business travelers account for 25%. Leisure, recreation and holiday travelers account for 25%. Conference attendees account for a small fraction of all arrivals from Israel. To attract more Israeli travelers, U.S. destinations and travel service providers should engage in marketing and promoting to local consumers.

The most popular activity participation while in the Unites States are shopping and dining, followed by art gallery/museum, sightseeing in cities, visit historical places and amusement and theme parks. Only 20% of Israeli visitors to the United States stated they are interested in touring the countryside, visit national parks or nightclubs. At least 65% of Israeli travelers to the United States plan their trip weeks in advance. At least 50% of travelers still rely on a travel agency as a primary source of information for their trip planning.

El Al Airlines, United Airlines, U.S. Airways and Delta Airlines operate 10 daily, direct flights from Tel Aviv to New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Most European airlines offer competitive prices and routes to the U.S. via Europe. Over 500 travel agents and about 15 wholesale tour operators work in the Israeli outbound travel market. Operators and airlines advertise special packages and seasonal deals on a daily basis. The high seasons for travel occur around the July-August summer vacation and the High Jewish holidays in September, October and April. Tour operators specialize in market segments rather than in specific destinations, and most operators are conservative in selecting new travel products.

Best Prospects/Services Return to top

The most popular activity participation while in the Unites States are shopping and dining. Israelis are also attracted to specialty accommodations such as boutique hotels and bed & breakfast in exotic sceneries. Wine tours that include specialized culinary experience, topped by outlet shopping would make a highlight of any trip.

Opportunities Return to top

Israeli tour operators and travel writers attend International Pow Wow yearly to meet new and old suppliers. Boutique hotels, culinary tours, outlet shopping, music festivals and family travel destinations may find opportunities in Israel, especially by offering new travel products and a high level of services. For promotion and market information, please contact Commercial Specialist Yael Torres: email: yael.torres@trade.gov

Web Resources Return to top

U.S. Dept. of Commerce Office of Travel & Tourism Industries; Israel Central Bureau of Statistics; Israel Ministry of Tourism

Healthcare Technologies Return to top

Overview Return to top

Israel is a lucrative market for advanced healthcare technologies. In 2013 Israeli distributors imported medical and pharmaceutical products in the amount of $2 billion. The U.S. share was 15% at $300 million. Germany and other EU countries are the major competitors but U.S. products outranked the EU competition in imaging equipment and diagnostics. Easy market-entry conditions and receptiveness to buy U.S. technologies and services make Israel an ideal destination for U.S. healthcare exports.

Characterized by a technologically advanced market economy, Israel has a public healthcare system that ensures a universal healthcare coverage to its entire population via four health management organizations and a network of hospitals, clinics and doctors. Israeli doctors and healthcare facilities are modern and are open to adopt new, cost effective technologies and procedures. Many Israeli doctors receive training in the United States and maintain personal and professional relationships with U.S. colleagues at major medical centers.

Market access is fairly clear for U.S. FDA and CE Marked medical products. U.S. companies interested in exporting to Israel need to appoint a local distributor, agent or other legal representative to register their products with the Israel Ministry of Health (MOH). The device registration should be accompanied by a 510(k), Pre-Market Approval (PMA) or an Investigational Device Exemption (IDE).

Best Prospects/Services Return to top

A growing awareness for preventive medicine since 2011 opened the market to advanced diagnostic procedures. This shift includes public campaigns for early detection of breast and colon cancer and inclusion of standard, age-based diagnostic procedures in the universal healthcare reimbursement list. Wound care continues to be a high priority in preventive care. In addition, a well-developed private sector healthcare in the areas of dental, eye laser surgery and plastic/aesthetic surgery keep up the demand for advanced medical instruments and appliances. Additional best sales prospects exist for U.S. manufacturers of FDA-approved, innovative technologies in many medical fields, including smart implants, medical imaging and minimally invasive image-guided technologies, preventive medical treatments, cardiology equipment, equipment and supplies for plastic surgery, dental instruments, equipment and technologies for pain management, physiotherapy, ozone & oxygen therapy, OR equipment, point of care diagnostic kits and wound management technologies.

Opportunities Return to top

The U.S. Commercial Service at the U.S. Embassy in Israel helps American exporters enter the market through partner search and trade promotion programs. For additional information, please contact Commercial Specialist Yael Torres: email: yael.torres@trade.gov

Web Resources Return to top

Israel Central Bureau of Statistics; Foreign Trade Statistics; Israel Ministry of Health;

Educational Services Return to top

Overview Return to top

At the commencement of the 2013/14 academic year, the Council for Higher Education estimated that 308,335 students would attend the 66 institutions of higher education in Israel. Breakdown is as follows: undergraduate 236,770 (76.8%), graduate 59,700 (19.4%), Phd10,650 (3.5%) and diploma students 1,215 (0.3%). This is an increase of 1.7% over the previous academic year. The growth rate has slowed down to less than 4% annually in the last decade, compared to 8% a year in the 1990s, when higher education became more accessible to the general public.

The Council for Higher Education (CHE) accredits all new institutions and programs and authorizes them to award academic degrees. The growing number of students entering private colleges has changed the landscape of the Israeli higher education system. The growth in the student population has led to the establishment of new colleges to meet the demand of qualified students. These colleges are accredited and must offer the same standard of education provided by state universities. Undergraduate students are entering these institutions in ever-increasing numbers (50%), thereby allowing the 7 public universities to focus more on graduate and research level studies.

Today, institutions of higher education in Israel number: 7 state universities, 1 open-university, 37 academic colleges (8 regional colleges associated with universities, 29 other regional colleges) and 21 teacher training colleges. Also, there are 12 institutions that offer diploma-level programs that are recognized by the Ministry of Education, 11 art schools, and 59 technological colleges. In 2013, revenues of the top 20 local universities and community colleges exceeded $2 billion. Around thirty foreign universities run local campuses in Israel.

Best Prospects/Services Return to top

Courses of Study

Israeli students typically apply for law, psychology, medicine, and veterinary medicine, engineering-and fields that are not offered as BAs in Israel such as hotel administration, advertising, art and therapy. Short-term or non-degree study includes fields such as English language, culinary arts, sound engineering, jazz or acting, architecture and institutions offering sports scholarships. Popular majors include: business administration, law, clinical psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, culinary arts, film, music, video editing, advertising, East Asian studies, international relations, computer sciences, engineering, architecture, social work, mass communications, pre-med, and life sciences. Increasingly popular is ecology, environmental sciences, make-up artistry, image consulting, drug and substance abuse counseling, and various expressive therapies.

Exchange Programs and Cooperative Agreements Return to top

In recent years there has been a growing trend by US schools to sign cooperative agreements with selected Israeli universities and colleges in an effort to attract graduate and post-doctoral students to their institutions and to work on collaborative research and development projects in areas of common interest.

Energy Sector Workforce Requirements for Israel Return to top

Israel’s offshore natural gas reserves are estimated around 30 trillion cubic feet, however the nation has little formal or vocational education programs to rapidly and efficiently develop this resource. This creates an opportunity for educators to train these individuals. Universities offering degree programs focused on hydrocarbon development at both the undergraduate and graduate level, can capitalize on this opportunity.

Opportunities Return to top

Today, attention in Israel has turned to secondary study and relevant accreditation, be it degree, diploma or certificate. Israelis are looking to broaden their horizons both professionally and personally and are investigating opportunities to study abroad. According to the OECD, Israel is the second most educated country in the world, which suggests that it is home to prospective international students of the highest quality. Also, Israel has the second highest number of GMAT takers per capita of any country in the world, and provides the seventh largest number of takers of any country in the world, ahead of France and Germany. Best prospects for U.S. educational institutions are to offer a degree integrated with practical work experience. According to 2013 statistics, a total of 25,000 Israelis requested information and showed interest in study programs in the States. In 2012/13 there were 2,430 Israeli students studying in the United States. (Breakdown: 700 under-graduate, 1,291 graduate, 148 non-degree and 291 OPT), which represented a 2.4% decline from the year prior.

If you are interested in tapping into this market, you are welcome to participate in the annual recruiting fair organized by CS Israel and Ustudy, study abroad agency. For additional information, please contact Commercial Specialist Alan Wielunski: email:alan.wielunski@trade.gov; Phone: +972-3-519-8526

Resources Return to top

Central Bureau of Statistics , Council for Higher Education, Open Doors

Automotive Aftermarket Parts & Equipment – Israel Return to top

Overview Return to top

The Israeli automotive industry is solely dependent on European and Asian imports having no manufacturing base of its own. Industry sources predicted that from 2011, the number of motor vehicle deliveries would average 240,000 units per annum, but this has not materialized. In 2013 only 225.297 units were delivered, an increase of 9.9% over 2012. Of the 2.6 million cars on Israeli roads, U.S. market share has remained flat at 3.2%, but U.S. manufacturers are making serious inroads in the market place with the introduction of smaller more fuel efficient vehicles such as the Ford Focus. The bulk of vehicle imports come from Europe (46.9%) and Asia (38.2%) - South Korea 19.2% and Japan 13% (Turkey 11.6%).The top four brands in Israel are Hyundai, Toyota, KIA and Skoda. The average age of vehicles is 6.9 years and rate of motorization 342.4 vehicles per. 1,000 residents.

In April 2013, the GOI (Government of Israel) approved the Ministry of Transportation’s proposal to adopt the Zelekha Committee recommendations from 2012, which sets out regulations governing the operation of parallel importers that are unassociated with the vehicle manufacturers, and the sale and trade of used vehicle parts. The new bill also allows personal importers the possibility of importing up to 20 vehicles a year including vehicles that have already been registered overseas, and temporary regulations (until 2015) which allows a business or individual to import two vehicles a year for business or personal use.

Despite the Ministry of Transportation’s efforts to reduce costs, the cost of car ownership has been steadily on the rise in Israel. From 1999 to 2009 the cost has increased by 0.5%, and now averages NIS 1,458 ($394) a month. Part of the reason costs are so high, are the high taxes on vehicles and gasoline, and the high cost of replacement parts and repairs. Despite OECD directives, taxes on new cars in Israel are among the highest in the world: 83% sales tax and 18% VAT, which industry sources blame as the main factor preventing the car market from reaching its full potential. In 2009, the GOI introduced tax incentives on imports of electric vehicles and hybrids in order to help reduce carbon emission gases, but in a move to raise declining state revenues, the Ministry of Finance has "raised the bar" on discounts allowed for more fuel-efficient 'green cars', meaning cars that previously qualified will no longer qualify under the new regulations, further raising the price of cars.

Best Prospects/Services Return to top

  • Car security and anti-theft devices: anti-theft electronic systems, locking devices,
  • Car body: bumpers, radiator grills, hood and trunk lids, wings, front and rear lamps (i.e. the parts most vulnerable in car accidents).
  • Service parts: disc brake pads, shock absorbers, front suspension parts, filters for oil and lubrication, air conditioning parts,
  • Replacement service parts: tires, fan belts, water hoses, water pumps, brake components, engine and transmission components, electrical components, undercarriage items that need replacing at the end of the warranty period.
  • Vehicle accessories: car care products, polish, wax, upholstery spray
  • Water-coolants (Glycol) for radiators
  • Electronic accessories: TV screens for the rear seats, GPS systems, sound systems etc.
  • Universal lubricants: well-known brand names of high-grade oils, lubricating, glycol, wax. The market demands well-known brand names.

Opportunities Return to top


Partnering up with a reputable local representative who has excellent contacts in the industry, proven reliability, loyalty, technical suitability and after-sales service capability is a key factor to success in selling and maintaining a continued presence in the Israeli market. U.S. companies need to be aggressive in their pursuit of business opportunities and maintain an active in-country presence. The most common approach used by exporters is to obtain a local importer/distributor. Distributors will import on their own account, carry sufficient stock to satisfy ongoing demand or to use for demonstration, maintain their own sales organization, supply spare parts and maintain a service division, if applicable.

Israeli importers are always on the lookout for quality products at competitive prices – usually in that order. For additional information, please contact Commercial Specialist Alan Wielunski: email:alan.wielunski@trade.gov; Phone: +972-3-519-8526.

Resources Return to top

Central Bureau of Statistics; Industry Sources; Israel Vehicle Importers Association; Federation of Israeli Chamber of Commerce

Intelligent Transportation Systems Return to top

Overview Return to top

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) is a broad-based term that describes a wide range of communication and computing technologies used to improve various transportation systems. Innovation in ITS is moving Israel towards an all-encompassing computer coordinated transportation system that will improve every source of transportation, from trains to roads, buses and even bike paths. Not only do these improvements make transportation more convenient and efficient, but also allow increased safety. Improvements in traffic management, driver assistance technologies, navigation aids, freight management dispatch systems, information for multi-modal transport users, rescue systems and environmental management provide users with significant reductions in total costs and travel time and increased safety.

In 2010, Israel adopted the US standard for ITS architecture which is expected to take 10 years to fully implement across all transit authorities operating in the country.

Total planned transportation infrastructure spending in Israel is planned to reach $16 billion in the medium term (2008-2015). Highway spending alone could reach approximately $6.4 billion over the next five years. In 2011-12, the Israel National Roads Company (INRC) will embark on the development, implementation and operation of a national traffic management system as part of its comprehensive traffic management program in order to proactively manage the road network, optimize existing capacity, reduce congestion, enhance safety and improve air quality. ITS spending by the Israel National Roads Company (INRC) may reach as high as $40 million.

Best Prospects/Services Return to top

Roughly 40% of the ITS budget is allocated to procuring hardware components such as; cameras, electronic signage and detectors. This product group alone is expected to reach $18.6 million in the next five years.

Opportunities Return to top

U.S. manufacturers of ITS products and services are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunities in the Israeli market. For additional information, please contact Commercial Specialist Alan Wielunski: email:alan.wielunski@trade.gov; Phone: +972-3-519-8526.

Resources Return to top

Israel National Roads Company; Ministry of Transport

Return to table of contents

Telecommunications Return to top

Overview Return to top

Israel’s telecom sector is a world leader in developing innovative technologies, systems and solutions for telecom providers and integrators. According to a report by Pyramid Research, the Israeli telecom service market will generate US$5.4bn in 2013, and is expected to remain almost the same in 2018. This will largely be due to far-reaching regulatory changes, intensified price competition and a saturated voice market; however, the center of gravity will be shifting from voice services to data. In 2018, data will represent 46% of total revenue, while voice will decline from 47% in 2013 to 30% in 2018.

The Israeli mobile market has boomed after the launch of two new operators and a number of MVNOs. Overall, it’s expected that mobile services will generate cumulative revenue of $14.9bn between 2013 and 2018. Israel possesses an extremely competitive market served by five mobile network operators, Partner, Cellcom, Pelephone, Golan Telecom and Hot Mobile, as well as number of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO)s. Strong competition is evident due to the range of competing mobile products that offer unlimited voice and text, full mobile number portability and regulatory barriers that prevent operators from linking sales of handsets to services or offering discounts to customers that commit to longer periods. Strong competition has led to operators focusing on mobile data and content opportunities as well as on costs, resulting in a number of infrastructure sharing agreements

Israel has the highest Internet penetration in the region, and fixed broadband is expected to remain strong, with the penetration rate growing from 25% to 26% of the population during this forecast period. Broadband growth will be driven by the popularity of bundled services; VDSL will remain the leading technology.

The total number of pay-TV subscriptions reached 1.5m at year-end 2013, for a household penetration rate of 69%. Cable will continue to be the leading technology, making up an average of 68% of the total pay-TV market over the forecast period. This strong market position comes as a result of the attractive bundles offered by HOT, but will continue to be challenged by satellite-based Yes and its incumbent parent, Bezeq.

Growth in the market will rely on a combination of new services and networks rather than increasing number of subscribers. Over the next three years, the majority of growth in the Israeli telecom market will arise from fixed and mobile broadband, VoIP, and pay-TV. "As the ability to offer multiplay services becomes more important in the Israeli market, operators look for mergers or partnerships that will allow them to expand their product ranges. Looking forward, the market is expected to grow as a result of demand for data and data-related services.


Best Prospects/Services Return to top

Strong competition in the Israeli mobile market has led operators focusing on mobile data and content opportunities as well as on costs, resulting in a number of infrastructure sharing agreements. Israeli mobile operators Cellcom, Pelephone and Golan Telecom have announced a 15-year agreement to construct and operate a shared LTE 4G radio network.

Hot Telecommunication Systems and Partner Communications (which operates in Israel under the Orange brand name) signed a similar agreement. These agreements will have to receive the approval of the antitrust commissioner before going into effect. Israel currently lacks a 4G network, with mobile users sufficing with 3G mobile broadband service with slower data transfer rates.

Cellcom is Israel’s market leading operator with 3.1 million subscribers as of September 2013, according to Informa’s WCIS Plus. It is trailed by Partner Communications and Pelephone, with 2.9 million and 2.7 million subscribers respectively. HOT Telecom is with 323,000 subscribers and Golan Telecom who became the fifth operator to enter the market in 2012, claims 380,000 subscribers on its network.

The majority of Israeli households subscribes to cable or satellite TV, provided by HOT and YES TV respectively. Free-to-Air (FTA) programming is also available via a Digital terrestrial TV (DTTV) network. The Ministry of Communications is keen to break up the HOT/YES duopoly by introducing IPTV-based competition, with estimates that competition could reduce tariffs by over 60%.

Any new entrants will be going up against two strong pay TV operators. Both HOT and YES have carved out a considerable market segment (according to IHS data by the end of 2012 the cable operator HOT controlled around 40 per cent of the total TV market while the satellite operator YES controlled around 26 per cent). They are both well-recognized brand names and IHS forecasts that their customer base will remain practically unchanged until 2017. The Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) platform during the same period will experience a sustainable growth rate during the next five years. IHS data shows that around 500,000 DTT set-top boxes and integrated TV sets had been sold by the end of 2012 and that up to 250,000 households are watching DTT. These figures represent 12.6 per cent of the total TV market and forecasts currently suggest DTT penetration will reach 20 per cent penetration by the year 2017.

Opportunities Return to top

Growth in the market will rely on a combination of new services and networks rather than increasing number of subscribers. Over the next three years, the majority of growth in the Israeli telecom market will arise from fixed and mobile broadband, VoIP, and pay-TV.

The demand for high-bandwidth applications such as HDVT and growing rates of internet data traffic have contributed to the telecom industry’s most pressing need – bigger pipes. Issues such as networks management, providing support for new applications and creating innovative ways to better monetize subscribers and decrease OPEX are becoming critically important. These challenges provide substantial opportunities for Israel’s thriving telecom sector.

Also, the Ministry of Communications reached an agreement with the Ministry of Defense to vacate frequencies which mobile carriers will use for 4G networks. The mobile carriers will need to have 4G frequencies, as their networks are overloaded. Industry sources believe that within a year, some networks are liable to stop functioning because of the demand for mobile Internet.

For additional information, please contact Commercial Specialist Sigal Mendelovich: email: sigal.mendelovich@trade.gov; Phone: +972-3-519-7491.

Web Resources Return to top

Ministry of Communication

Israel Association of Electronics & Software Industries

IATI

Electronic Components (ELC) Return to top

Overview Return to top

 

2010

2011

2012 (-3%)

Est.

2013 (+5)

Total Market Size

997

1,1

1,0

1.088

Total Local Production

1,513

1,664

1,605

1,685

Total Exports

1,446

1,590

1,534

1,610

Total Imports

930

1.0

965

1,013

Imports from the U.S.

250

275

265

278

Industry experts predict that Israel’s electronic components industry, valued at more than $1 billion will show a 5% increase in 2013 and continue into 2014. Most components are imported, integrated into various types of systems or subsystems and generally exported. Israeli companies purchase electronic components from Europe (44%), the U.S. (44%) and Asia (22%). In 2012, imports from the U.S. alone reached more than $260 million. Companies outsource their purchasing activities using subcontractors for supplying them with the components they need.

Israel’s leading sectors remain the defense and medical industry, which showed stability even in difficult times. Sectors that are showing a healthy recovery are the solar energy and safety & security market. There is an increased demand for passive components and RF.

Israel is a major importer of electronic components. Total imports totaled $970 million, with nearly 30% coming from the U.S. Although the U.S. remains one of Israel’s main components suppliers, Asian companies are proving tough competitors. Numerous multinational corporations have also taken advantage of Israel’s technical expertise by establishing R&D facilities and manufacturing plants in the country. These include Applied Materials, General Electric, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, National Semiconductor, Jabil and Vishay.

There are three key points that influence competition in the Israeli electronic components market:

§Product’s technical features - Demand for the most updated innovative technologies components is very high. Israeli companies always look for components that can enhance their products’ technical features.

§Technical support - Providing technical support is very important for the Israeli customer. Bad technical support assistance has negative influence on recurring purchasing decisions.

§Price - When quality is not an issue, Israeli companies prefer to purchase cheap components from Asian countries. That is the case of mass production. Prices of electronic components imported from the U.S. are more expensive and therefore local companies tend to purchase American components when they need to produce reliable systems for defense, safety and security systems.

Best Prospects/Services Return to top

As a developed technology market, Israel is always looking for innovative technologies and components to enhance product technical features. Developments in the Israeli telecom, defense and homeland security markets have had a positive effect on the increased demand for electronic components. Israel’s purchasing nature is based on two main factors, price and technical support.

Opportunities Return to top

Israel offers opportunities for U.S. exporters of active components, RF & microwave, power amplifiers and semiconductors. There are a large number of Israeli companies that represent U.S. firms in this sector, always looking for new-to-market U.S. companies with good service and competitive prices that they can represent. For additional information, please contact Commercial Specialist Sigal Mendelovich: email: sigal.mendelovich@trade.gov; Phone: +972-3-519-7491.

Web Resources Return to top

Israel Association of Electronics & Software Industries

New-techonline

Energy Return to top

Overview Return to top

Since 2009, Israel has discovered over 800 Billion Cubic Meters (BCM) of offshore natural gas. Noble Energy and its local partners are supplying gas from the Tamar field. The future of the Leviathan field and Israel’s ability to develop the potential of its natural gas resources will in large part be determined by the companies’ ability to find reliable export partners for the gas.

Israel plans to use the gas to leverage the development of a gas-based auxiliary industrial sector. The country is rapidly developing a gas based electricity sector and the regulator has issued dozens of licenses for IPP’s including combined cycle plants. The government is awaiting the conclusion of an economic feasibility study regarding the use of gas for the transportation sector including the construction of a GTL plant and the production of methanol. There are opportunities for engineering consulting services in pipeline infrastructure development, and in training and education.

Israel Electric Corporation (IEC)

IEC is Israel’s state-owned electricity utility company.  The company owns, maintains and operates 17 power stations sites, including 5 sites for steam driven power stations, and the national transmission and distribution systems.  At the end of 2012, Israel’s installed capacity supplying electricity to the grid was 13,750 MW of which IEC owned 13,250 MW, and private producers approximately 500 MW. IEC’s $14m 5-year investment plan for 2013-2017 will require significant procurements for upgrades and maintenance of its generation, transmission & transformation and distribution systems. The company’s plans to build an additional coal fire power station “project D” in Ashkelon in 2018-19 are still under consideration. An MOU has been signed with EDF (Electricite de France) to jointly build a 1,500-megawatt capacity that will operate on natural gas with potential to switch to coal.

The government is in negotiations with IEC’s management and labor union for breaking up the company into separate profit units. As a state-owned company, IEC is included in Israel's WTO/GPA agreement requiring it to use public tender procedures. While some projects are tendered out in open tender procedures, in most cases, a selective tendering process requires potential suppliers to pre-qualify to be included in IEC's approved suppliers' list.

Independent Power Producers (IPP) 


The Electricity Law provides the framework for the increase of IPPs from less than 0.5% to 20% of Israel’s installed generating capacity.  With the ongoing construction of the natural gas transmission and distribution networks, some major industries have been connected or will soon be connected to the gas supply. The Public Utility Authority for Electricity has granted dozens of conditional generation licenses for stand-alone and combined cycle IPP’s to produce over 4,000 MW. Major stand-alone IPP’s are due to come on-line in the very near future are The 140-megawatt OPC combined cycle power station in Rotem became operational in July 2013 and the 840 MW Dorad plant near Ashkelon is due to be connected in the very near future. In June 2013, the foundations were laid for the 870 MW Dalia Power Energies IPP at Tzafit. The large number of projects in various planning stages offers good opportunities for U.S. manufacturers, in particular of cogeneration equipment.

Renewable Energy

In 2009, the Israeli government established a target for renewables to reach 10% of the country’s generating capacity by 2020. The local industry, in particular the solar sector, started to grow at a faster pace, focuses mainly on small and medium-size prospects. However, by 2013, renewables reached just over 200 MW, accounting for less than one percent of Israel’s electricity production. According to in Ernst & Young's most recent index rankings, Israel ranks 17th in solar energy attractiveness and 37th in overall renewable energy attractiveness, behind Chile and the UAE. Bureaucratic bottlenecks, cumbersome regulations, and lack of land are often cited as factors explaining a lower than expected use of solar energy.

Israel has numerous technology firms developing renewable energy technologies. Many of these companies are focused on markets outside of Israel. US-Israeli cooperation and joint R&D in the renewable sector is growing. The BIRD Foundation provides a good platform for joint U.S.-Israel commercial R&D in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The bi-annual Eilat Renewable Energy conference and exhibition offers an opportunity for U.S. renewable energy companies to present their technologies and network with Israeli companies and government officials.

Natural Gas Pipelines

The state owned Israel Natural Gas Lines company (INGL) awarded the last leg of the national pipeline transmission infrastructure to Italian company ENI in (name month and year). INGL awarded two franchises for the construction and operation of regional distribution networks in (name month and year). With extensive investment in pipeline construction, there are ongoing opportunities for U.S. equipment suppliers and engineering consultants.

Best Prospects/Services Return to top

Electrical Power Generation, Transmission and Distribution Equipment; Pipeline Equipment and Consulting Services

Opportunities Return to top

Israel Electric Corporation is operating under an emergency plan, making substantial investments in expansion and improvements to its generation, transmission and distribution systems. To meet projected future electricity demand, Israel Electric is investing almost $3 billion annually.   Good opportunities exist also in the IPP sector.  The Public Utility Authority for Electricity, the regulatory body, has issued numerous licenses for IPPs including to Dorad, OPC and Dalia and for combined cycle plants at major industries and desalination plants over the past few years.  Israel remains a good market for U.S. suppliers of equipment and services to the energy sector.  Opportunities also exist for pipeline engineering and consulting services to the recently awarded franchisees.

For additional information, please contact Commercial Specialist Irit van der Veur: email: irit.vanderveur@trade.gov; Phone: +972-3-519-7540.

Web Resources Return to top

Israel Electric Corp.

Ministry of Energy and Water Resources

Israel Natural Gas Lines Company

BIRD Foundation

Homeland Security Return to top

Overview Return to top

Israel is a well-developed and sophisticated market for homeland security equipment and services.  Israel’s security-awareness and high level of preparedness are the driving forces for the development of the country’s cutting edge security industry.  This is one of Israel’s high-growth export industries.  Israel has some 450 exporters of security technologies and services, including many integrators and service providers.  The homeland security industry's annual sales are estimated at $4 billion, with exports accounting for approximately $2.2 billion.  Imports are an estimated $5500 million, with almost 50% U.S. market share.  HLS is closely related to Israel’s successful defense sector that continues to grow its annual exports, reaching $7 billion in 2012.

Best Prospects/Services Return to top

(CCTV, X-ray systems and screening systems using alternative technologies, non-lethal weapons, sensors, biometric solutions

Opportunities Return to top

Israel is an attractive market for U.S. manufacturers of high-end equipment and of components that can be integrated into Israeli systems.  Israeli manufacturers are important end-users of imported security equipment and components that are integrated into locally produced for-export security systems.  In addition, many of the homeland security systems are sold to the Israel Ministry of Defense.  These procurements are often made with Foreign Military Funding (FMF) or Foreign Military Sales (FMS), giving an advantage to U.S. manufacturers. U.S. suppliers dominate the imports with almost 50% market share.

The total imports of homeland security equipment and services are estimated at $600 million. Good opportunities exist for sophisticated equipment used in homeland security applications.  U.S. security equipment, which enjoys an excellent reputation in Israel due to its high reliability, is often used for sensitive applications, by high-security industries and for key infrastructures and installations.  The market offers good opportunities for U.S. exporters of high quality and sophisticated detection and screening systems, CCTV, sensors, biometric solutions, x-ray systems, non-lethal weapons, etc. U.S. exporters should take into account that their products may be re-exported. U.S. companies that want to participate in this sector should be knowledgeable of U.S. export control regulations.  

For additional information, please contact Commercial Specialist Irit van der Veur: email: irit.vanderveur@trade.gov; Phone: +972-3-519-7540.

Web Resources Return to top

Israeli Export and International Cooperation Institute

U.S. Department of Commerce Export Control Regulations

U.S. Department of State Export Control Regulations

Return to table of contents

Chapter 5: Trade Regulations, Customs and Standards

Import Tariffs Return to top

Israel's tariff classification is based on the Harmonized System (HS) Code. Israel’s Customs and Purchase Tax Tariff is the main instrument used for the classification of goods. The correct classification of goods is the key to determining tax rates, as well as obtaining various authorizations, permits and licenses, and all other conditions of importation, in accordance to the applicable laws, regulations and instructions. We recommend contacting a professional customs broker for consultation since classification of goods requires professional knowledge. Israeli Customs provides free pre-ruling classification information (under Commercial Import Taxes). A request should include a detailed description of the goods, a catalog with the technical information and/or any other relevant information. In addition, Customs may also require a sample of the material/product, lab testing results, authorizations from institutes/authorized government agencies, import license and any other documents as required by the specific Customs Department.

Over the years, the OECD has found that Israeli consumers are paying higher than global average prices for food and agricultural products

Israel, Select Import Tariff Rates, 2013

Import Tariff

Products

Percent of Total Imports*

Exempt

Fish, calves for fattening, frozen beef, vegetable oils, pasta, cocoa, sugar, couscous, spices, cereals, coffee, tea, concentrated juice for the juice industry, seeds, and dried fruits.

35%

Below 20%

Fish, foie gras, flowers, frozen vegetables, nuts, fresh fruit types, processed fruits and nuts, spices, cereals, flour, potatoes, dried vegetables.

44%

20%-40%

Cheese substitutes, processed vegetables, fish, most kinds of fresh fruit and vegetables, tuna, juices.

11%

40%-60%

Lamb meat, processed meat (sausages), cheeses, fresh fruit and veg, olive oil, processed vegetables, juices.

4%

60%-80%

Fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese.

2%

80%-100%

Garlic, honey, fish varieties found in Israel, fresh fruit and veg.

1%

100% +

Dairy products (e.g., butter), fresh beef, live goats.

3%

     

Source: The Kedmi Committee Report.

*Percent of Total Imports – e.g. Exempt – 35% of all food and agricultural imports to Israel are duty free

Food Prices: On January 12, 2014, the Israeli Government approved the creation of a committee headed by Mr. Harel Locker, Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office that is focusing on bringing down food prices by advancing parallel imports of food products. The group will explore ways to allow parallel imports of the same brands of food. The vote came as ministers heard a report by the Finance Ministry’s budget division, which found that 60 percent of the food retail market is controlled by two supermarket chains. “This market is a classic cartel,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. According to PM Netanyahu, this figure shows that there is no competition. “There is an unacceptable phenomenon of historic arrangements that are causing an increase in food prices and consumer exploitation,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at the meeting. “Without opening up the markets to imports, there will not be a reduction in food prices.” The government has been taking up the cause of consumers amid growing evidence of the high cost of living in Israel, including a March 2014 report by the Knesset Research and Information Center, which found that food prices in Israel are 25 percent higher than in the EU. The report estimates that food prices in Israel rose by 16 percent after inflation in the nine years through 2013, compared with just 1.8 percent in the EU. The Locker committee will include Health Ministry Director General Ronni Gamzu, Economy Ministry Director General Amit Lang and Finance Ministry Budget Director Amir Levi. The committee will explore ways to increase the number of food imports in Israel, both of new products and by encouraging multiple importers for the products already available in Israel. Among the ways that may be achieved is by increasing the number of overseas food plants approved to export processed food to Israel by accepting quality-assurance certificates issued in the manufacturers’ country of origin. That would do away with the need for certificates for each and every product. This new concession may spur food imports from the United States, as many documents requested by the Israeli food import licensing authority do not exist in the U.S., while other documents typically generated that address food safety, have not been heretofore recognized by the Israeli licensing authority.

Trade Barriers Return to top

In general, Israel offers a good commercial environment for U.S. companies. The United States-Israel Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has eliminated almost all tariffs, leaving Israel's agricultural sector as the only one with substantial barriers. The FTA also provides for a joint committee comprised of representatives from both countries to review the functioning of the agreement. Israel is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

A 1996 Agreement on Trade in Agricultural Products (ATAP) with the United States permits Israel to maintain non-tariff protection for certain agricultural products. This framework expired at the end of 2001 but the signed agreement was renegotiated and extended until the end of 2008. Since then the agreement was extended three times until the end of 2013. Talks with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) are now scheduled for June 2014 in Israel. In the interim, both parties agreed to extend the current ATAP.

Under the agreement, Israel permits free access to a long list of food products and duty-free access for certain quantities of a list of U.S. products under tariff rate quotas (TRQ). American exporters and Israeli importers, however, complain that these TRQs provide an insufficient duty-free quota for many fruits and other products, and very high tariffs on imports above quota. Israel excludes most of US fresh vegetative products, on phytosanitary grounds. Israel has revised its phytosanitary restrictions and requirements making them consistent with WTO requirements.

The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv is very actively pursuing much-needed improvements in the export and investment climate for U.S. firms in Israel. These efforts are focused in three specific areas: incorporating technical standards in Israel that do not discriminate against U.S. products, protecting intellectual property rights, and establishing greater transparency in Israel’s public procurement process. For further information about how these issues may affect your export prospects in Israel, please contact the Commercial Service in Israel.

Regarding intellectual Property Rights, while there has been improvement in the level of illegal production, importation, and sale of copyrighted and trademarked goods, problems still exist. For more details, see “Intellectual Property Rights, in Chapter 6, “Investment Climate Statement.”

Import Requirements and Documentation Return to top

All administrative import licensing requirements for U.S.-made consumer and industrial goods have been eliminated under the FTA, excluding the requirements for most food and agricultural products. In the case of products for which there is a TRQ, the Ministry of Agriculture or the Ministry of Economy (previously Ministry of Industry, Trade & Labor) issues a license, which either totally exempts the bearer from duty or grants a reduction in customs duty on the quantity indicated in the license. Importers wishing to bring in goods without availing themselves of the TRQ are not required to obtain a license. All imported agricultural and food products must carry a health certificate or an import license for veterinary, phytosanitary or public health reasons. The Israel Veterinary Services (IVS), the Plant Protection and Inspection Services (PPIS) and the Food Control Service (FCS) of the Ministry of Health issue these licenses, respectively. Please contact Agricultural Specialist Yossi Barak for more details at yossi.barak@usda.gov.

U.S. Export Controls Return to top

U.S. exporters to Israel must follow U.S. Government requirements regarding export control documentation for sensitive U.S. technology exports, e.g. high technology, defense related equipment and technologies and weapons for chemical and biological warfare.  For information on this subject contact the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security, Internet web site: http://www.bis.doc.gov/, the Trade Information Center at 1-800-872-8723 or the U.S. Department of State Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC)

Although Israel is not a signatory to the Wassenaar Arrangement, it has adopted the Wassenaar list of dual-use items subject to control. As of January 1, 2007, the Ministry of Ecomony’s Chemistry Administration is responsible for the administration of Israel’s dual-use export control system. MOE works closely with Ministry of Defense (MOD)’s Defense Export Controls Agency (DECA). DECA administers Israel’s defense-related export controls.

Israel’s defense industries are export-driven, with 75-80% of the production destined for export to global markets. Many U.S.-made items are integrated into Israeli defense products. Re-exports of U.S. technologies from Israel to third countries require the Israeli exporter to disclose the identity of his foreign customer and to obtain an end-user certificate. This requirement poses a challenge for the U.S. exporter of sensitive defense equipment to sell to the Israeli defense industry.

Temporary Entry Return to top

Temporary entry of U.S.-made goods is possible with an "ATA Carnet" issued by a U.S. Chamber of Commerce or through payment of a deposit, reimbursable upon re-export.

Labeling and Marking Requirements Return to top

Israel has strict marking and labeling requirements that frequently differ from those of other countries. U.S. exporters should consult with their Israeli importer prior to shipping any product that will be offered to the local market. The Food Control Services (FCS) of the Ministry of Health his enforcing the labeling regulations Embassy Tel Aviv is working with the Ministry to try to resolve any discrepancy.

All imports into Israel must have a label indicating the country of origin, the name and address of the producer, the name and address of the Israeli importer, the contents, and the weight or volume in metric units. In all instances, Hebrew must be used; English may be added provided the printed letters are no larger than those in Hebrew. Nutritional labeling is compulsory on all packaged foods. For more information on marking and labeling requirements, see the information in FAIRS report or please contact Agricultural Specialist Yossi Barak for more details at yossi.barak@usda.gov, Tel: 972-3-519-7686.

Currently, commercial production of biotech crops, including for seed production is not allowed in Israel. However, this situation is expected to be changed in the next 3-5 years, as the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture is currently discussing this issue and the Israeli Plant and Protection Services (PPIS) supports the commercial production of biotech crops in Israel. The pressure to allow the production of biotech plants and seeds comes from private industry. Currently, there is no regulation concerning importation or use of biotech agricultural products and foods with biotech content in Israel. The local food and livestock feed industries use biotech raw materials for the purpose of food and feed production, mainly corn and soybean. Currently, there are no labeling requirements for imported food products that contain biotech components, however the Ministry of Health is in advanced discussions, and biotech labeling requirements are expected to be introduced into the market in 2014 or 2015. Products having ingredients that comprise in excess of 0.9% which are derived through bio-technology, will need to declare this on the label. The Israeli Food Control Services, which is part of the Ministry of Health, is about to publish regulations on "novel food", also relating to food with biotech content. Prior the publication of the regulations, the Israeli Ministry of Health gathers a list of genetically engineered crops that are already imported to Israel for marketing and/or for use in the food industry. Importing and marketing of varieties that are included in the Ministry of Health list will not require an approval as a novel food item. However, if a product which contains a biotech-derived ingredient is not included in the Food Control Services biotech list, and an importer wants to import this product into Israel, then this product must go through a risk assessment process at the Israeli Ministry of Health that can take a few months prior its approval for importation.

Israel’s main export market for food is Europe where consumer concern over GMO is considerable. Thus, many Israeli raw material importers require an exporter’s declaration that the product is GMO free.

Marking should be done by printing, engraving, stamping, or any other means, on the package or the goods themselves. If marking is not possible, a label should be well sewn or stuck to the goods or package. Marking details should be clear, legible and in a different color from the background in order to be clearly distinguishable. Printing dyes and other marking materials should not affect merchandise quality. The marking should not be blurred. On a multi-layered package, the external layer should be marked. If the external layer is transparent the marking should be done underneath that layer, provided it is still clear and legible. On a package containing sub-packages, the labeling should specify the number of such sub-packages, the net content of a sub-package, and the overall net weight of the package. An aerosol container should indicate the net quantity weight unit for semi-solid or powder products, and volume unit for liquids. For products that tend to lose weight under regular marketing/commercial conditions, the maximum quantity of expected depletion should be mentioned.

Specific labeling regulations apply to some consumer goods, paper products, handbags, musical recordings, fertilizers, insecticides, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, some food products, seeds, and alcoholic beverages. Outside and inside containers of dangerous articles, such as poisons, insecticides, drugs, flammable goods, ammunition, explosives, reptiles, insects, bacteria and radioactive materials should be clearly marked.

U.S. exporters of auto parts to Israel are concerned about a Ministry of Transportation requirement that they affix “Made in the USA” labels to their product before entry into Israeli Customs territory. Most U.S. auto parts manufacturers label their parts as being “Assembled in the USA,” required by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for domestic parts that contain some portion of foreign content.

Prohibited and Restricted Imports Return to top

Israel maintains restrictions on imports of agricultural and food products the government considers to be economically sensitive and subject to agricultural policy considerations. U.S. meat exports face an especially difficult environment due to a ban on beef meat due to veterinary restrictions and for kosher requirements. Waiving the ban on imports of live cattle and beef meat and products is under advanced discussions. Post estimates the market will be opened to U.S. beef meat by the end of 2014.

Since December 1994, Israel has maintained a ban on imports of all non-kosher meat products. However, GOI permits domestic production, sale, and consumption of non-kosher beef (including pork); 95 percent of all meat products produced in Israel are nonetheless kosher. With the exception of beef, poultry (including turkey) and their products, as well as mutton, there is no legal requirement that imported food be kosher. However, non-kosher food products have a much smaller market share as the large Israeli supermarket chains and hotels refuse to carry them. 

New Possible Kosher Food Certification System in Israel - Economy Minister Bennett announced plans on February 3, 2014 to “revolutionize” Israel’s kosher food regulations and to introduce a three-tier system that aims to make certification easier for restaurants and its customers and kashrut supervisors will be employed by external companies. The changes aim to eliminate a conflict of interest and restore public faith in the system of declaring food kosher.  The ministry believes the reforms will be implemented within 12 months. Kosher certifications for businesses in Israel are awarded by local state rabbinic bodies, known as kashrut committees that are under the supervision of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. Kashrut inspectors visit applicants and inspect their kitchens when preparing food to ensure they meet the Kashrut laws. However, the ultra-Orthodox community also operates a variety of stricter kashrut certification committees, known as the “Badatz”. Currently business owners pay the kashrut supervisor directly, which has been the cause of a conflict of interest in hiring supervisors. The plan is to establish independent companies, which will hire kashrut supervisors on behalf of the local religious councils, and then have them sent to supervise food operations on behalf of the company. Please contact Agricultural Specialist Yossi Barak for more details at yossi.barak@usda.gov, Tel: 972-3-519-7686.

Customs Regulations and Contact Information Return to top

In order for U.S. exporters to qualify for preferential access to the Israeli market, a hard copy, green color Certificate of Origin (CoO) must accompany all shipments from the United States to Israel. The U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement (FTA) came into full effect in 1995. Under this agreement, American companies exporting to Israel can gain greater market access, reduce transaction costs, increase sales, enhance export revenues and become more competitive in the Israeli marketplace. The CoO is not mandatory but U.S. exporters are encouraged to present it to Israeli Customs in order to qualify for preferential tariff treatment. In addition, U.S. goods that are transshipped through third countries require a Certificate of Non-Manipulation from the customs authority of the third country, in order to qualify for the FTA preferential tariff.

Israeli Customs stringently enforces import documentation regulations, including the CoO for exports to Israel. Therefore, U.S. exporters should meticulously follow the advice given below and always double-check with the Israeli Customs clearing agent before the goods leave the United States to avoid potentially lengthy delays when the goods enter Israel. If the exporter is also the manufacturer the CoO does not need to be notarized or stamped by a Chamber of Commerce. Instead, the exporter should sign the declaration in box 11 of the certificate: "The undersigned hereby declares that he is the producer of the goods covered by this certificate and that they comply with the origin requirements specified for those goods in the U.S.-Israel Free Trade Area Agreement for goods exported to Israel”. The actual CoO forms are printed by a number of commercial printing houses in the United States. Please note that the aforementioned process is being reviewed for possible modifications and that the U.S. Commercial Service should be contacted for more information at Certificate of Origin for Exporting to Israel.

Other Documentation

The Israeli Customs Services prefer that exporters use their own commercial invoice forms containing all required information including name and address of supplier, general nature of the goods, country of origin of the goods, name and address of the customer in Israel, name of the agent in Israel, terms, rate of exchange (if applicable), Israel import license number (if applicable), shipping information, and a full description of all goods in the shipment including shipping marks, quantity or measure, composition of goods (by percentage if mixed), tariff heading number, gross weight of each package, net weight of each package, total weight of shipment, price per unit as sold, and total value of shipment. The total value of the shipment includes packing, shipping, dock and agency fees, and insurance charges incurred in the exportation of the goods to Israel. The commercial invoice must be signed by the manufacturer, consignor, owner, or authorized agent. U.S. exporters should also double check with their freight forwarder, shipping company or importer to find out if any other documentation, including bill of lading and packing list, is required. It is imperative that these issues be addressed before the goods arrive at the Israeli port, to avoid any possible delays and storage fees.

Authorization Procedures for "Approved Exporter" Status

Potential candidates for “Approved Exporter” status are U.S. firms with total annual exports to Israel of at least $20 million that have a clean record with the Israel Customs Services. Israel Customs will examine whether the manufacturer or exporter complies with the criteria and grant approval for "Approved Exporter" status. The approved exporter will be given an identity number to be stamped on all invoices. The approval is valid for six months, after which the exporter should receive an automatic extension from Israel Customs. If the exporter does not receive an extension notice he/she must terminate use of the approval. For more information please contact U.S. Commercial Service Commercial Specialist, Yael Torres, at yael.torres@trade.gov

Standards Return to top

Overview Return to top

The Standards Institution of Israel (SII) is the only statutory body in Israel that develops and establishes standards. Created by an act of the Knesset (Parliament), "The Standards Law of 1953" mandates SII’s responsibility for the preparation, publication of technical specifications and standards for products and services, which are produced locally or imported. Today, the SII incorporates standardization, testing, conformity assessment, product certification, management system certification and training activities under one roof. It has laboratories in almost all technological areas, providing testing and inspection services to industry and commerce, as well as regulatory services to government. Overseeing the SII’s policy is the Commissioner of Standards at the Ministry of Economy (formally known as the Ministry of Industry, Trade & Labor).

The supreme body of the SII is the General Assembly, comprised of 70 members from the following sectors: manufacturing, construction, commerce, services, trades, consumers, engineering associations, universities and government. The General Assembly annually elects a Board of Directors and President. The SII’s Standardization Division coordinates the preparation of standards through the work of hundreds of standardization committees that include volunteer representatives from all sectors of the Israeli economy. The adoption of Israeli standards is voluntary, however, standards may be declared mandatory by the relevant government ministry in the interest of public health and safety or protection of the environment.

As the mandated national standards body, the SII represents Israel in two international standards organizations, the International Organization for Standards (ISO) and the International Electromechanical Commission (IEC). The SII has also become an affiliate of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and the European Committee for Electro technical Standardization (CENELEC), though it has not joined any technical committees.

Israeli legislation also mandates the adoption of multiple, proven international standards whenever possible to maximize benefits to the Israeli consumer of a competitive market. However, Israeli standards policy in the past is its clear preference for European standards, but effective May 1, 2014, the SII will be required to identify and adopt equivalent US standards for 500 mandatory Israeli standards. Moreover, conformity assessment will be based on the following: manufacturer’s declaration of compliance, conformity to relevant standard and approval by certified testing laboratory.

This follows the August, 2013 Israeli Knesset Economic Affairs Committee approval of a standardization reform bill that promises to have the SII recognize ‘international’ standards such as those of the U.S. and European countries. The new law was derived from the recommendations of the 2011 Trajtenberg Committee. The Knesset passage of the new law will greatly expand the Government of Israel (GOI’s) recognition of international standards for imported products, which would include most U.S and European food and agricultural product standards. The new law will eliminate the requirement for government inspections and testing, while moving to a system that provides broader recognition of exporter certifications for products that have met the production standards of the country of origin. The new standard regime should allow for significant growth in imports and lower prices through increased competition. Currently, Israel’s mechanism for adopting or recognizing “international standards” is based on a conformity assessment process for determining if imported goods meet Israeli standards. A January 2000 amendment of the GOI Standards Law states that, “in general, the Standards Institution of Israel shall adopt international standards that are accepted in developed countries.” In practice, this has often meant that a single international standard from one country was adopted by the SII, rather than generally accepting standards from developed countries. This has often had negative consequences for U.S. products imported in to Israel. Frequently, the SII has adopted an EU product standard and then has made a finding that the prospective U.S. import did not meet the EU (international) standard. The new legislation seeks to eliminate this use of a single international standard and mandate that ministries performing conformity assessments accept the manufacture’s declaration that the product complies with the standards of the country of origin, if the country of origin is a developed country with a respected standards system. The proposed legislation should streamline the conformity assessment process which would allow recognition of a much broader range of “international standards” than under the current system and ease the importation process for a significant number of U.S. imports to Israel, including U.S. food and agricultural products.

Standards Organizations Return to top

The SII is the sole organization that develops standards in Israel. On a yearly basis the SII prepares its work plan that includes a list of standards they plan to develop. Members of the various technical committees, as well as government ministries, provide input.

NIST Notify U.S. Service Return to top

Member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are required under the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) to report to the WTO all proposed technical regulations that could affect trade with other Member countries.

Notify U.S. is a free, web-based e-mail subscription service that offers an opportunity to review and comment on proposed foreign technical regulations that can affect your access to international markets. Register online at Internet URL:

http://www.nist.gov/notifyus/

Conformity Assessment Return to top

The sole authority for conformity assessment in Israel is the SII.

Product Certification Return to top

SII operates product and system certification programs. Use of the Standards Mark is generally voluntary but Israeli law mandates that certain classes of products must be certified before they are sold. The Standards Mark program operates in accordance with EN 45011. To qualify for the Standards Mark, a product must conform to the requirements of the applicable standard or standards, and be manufactured in a plant with an approved quality assurance system, similar to ISO 9002.

The Standards Mark Board appoints technical committees of representatives from the public and private sectors in various technological areas, which meet regularly to evaluate the findings of the test reports and quality assessment reports. These committees report their findings to the Licensing Committee, which is responsible for granting or canceling a license.


Once a license is issued, follow-up inspections of the product and quality assurance review is performed. These inspections are performed by laboratory personnel and certified auditors. In addition, samples of the product are taken several times a year to insure continuous compliance of the product with the relevant standard or standards. In order to ease the process for foreign manufacturers wishing to enter the Standards Mark program, agreements have been reached with independent foreign testing and certification organizations to perform testing and inspection services on behalf of SII.

The SII has signed Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA) with the following U.S. organizations:

Dept. of Defense

QPL AND QML for Electronic components

ETL

Standards Mark recognition - Electrical and energy products

FCC

Recognition

IAPMO

Hydraulic products
Standards Mark

NSF

Food Safety, HACCP-9000, HACCP

UL

Mutual recognition in fields of: Electricity, electronics, hydraulics, mechanics, fire. Standards Mark supervision in fields of: Electricity, electronics, hydraulics, mechanics, fire

Accreditation Return to top

The Israel Laboratory Accreditation Authority (ISRAC) is the only body in Israel, which is internationally and legally recognized to accredit testing and calibration laboratories according to ISO/IEC 17025 and to recognize laboratories in accordance with the OECD rules of Good Laboratory Practice (GLP).

The Government of Israel decided in its resolution No. 3778 from August 14, 1994 to set up a National Authority for the accreditation of testing and calibration laboratories (ISRAC) and empowered the Minister of Industry, Trade & Labor to implement this resolution as a voluntary scheme for laboratories wishing to be internationally recognized for their competence in testing. The law for the national accreditation authority (ISRAC) was passed in the Knesset in May of 1997.

ISRAC has accredited laboratories in the areas of food, water, cosmetics, pesticide chemistry, biology, microbiology as well as many calibration, engineering, construction laboratories NDT (non-destructive testing) and EMC (telecommunications).

Publication of Technical Regulations Return to top

Technical standards are published in the official Israel Government Gazette in hard copy only and can be purchased in bookstores that sell legal textbooks or by subscription. Prior to publication, the Director General of the SII officially informs the relevant industry sectors of pending additions and amendments. U.S. entities can influence the content and adoption of technical standards through active participation at the technical committee level.

Labeling and Marking Return to top

The Standards Institution of Israel operates a product certification scheme to assist consumers in identifying products conforming to Israeli Standards. For more information go to: http://www.sii.org.il/384-en/SII_EN.aspx

Contacts Return to top

Mr. Ilan Carmit, Business & Projects Development Manager
The Standards Institution of Israel
Tel: +972-3-6467802; Direct: +97237454019; Fax: +972-3-6467779;

Email: carmit@sii.org.il

Mrs. Helen Atarot, Director, Standardization Division
The Standards Institution of Israel

Tel: +972-3-6465180; Fax: + 972-3-6412762; Email atarot@sii.org.il

Trade Agreements Return to top

Israel has adopted a liberal import policy. In addition to its Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the U.S., it has FTAs with Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Turkey, the European Union (EU), and EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland). In 2011 a trade agreement has been signed with the MERCOSUR countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela) and an agreement with India is under discussion. Israel also has a preferential trade arrangement with Jordan and maintains a customs union with the Palestinian Authority. In late 2002, the European Union began imposing customs duties on goods manufactured by Israeli companies located in the Palestinian territories.

In 1997, Congress amended the law governing the U.S./Israeli Free Trade Agreement to enable the creation of so-called qualifying industrial zones (QIZs) with Jordan and Egypt. Jordan took advantage of this opportunity beginning in 1997. Under the agreement, products manufactured in Jordan enjoy duty and quota free access to the U.S. market if, inter alia, they contain a certain minimum percentage of Israeli inputs. As a result of the QIZ agreement, exports to the U.S. grew significantly. In 2001, Jordan and the U.S. signed a Free Trade Agreement which allowed duty free access to the U.S. for Jordanian goods, independent of Israeli content. The FTA reduced the significance of the Israel-Jordan QIZ agreement in terms of joint Israeli-Jordanian manufacturing and exports to the U.S.

Egypt signed the QIZ agreement in December 2004. Egyptian products manufactured within a designated zone with 10.5% Israeli inputs, and a combined 35% value added, may enter into the U.S. duty free. Since signing the agreement, Egypt's imports to the U.S. have more than doubled. A list of current Egyptian QIZ-eligible companies and zones can be obtained at http://www.qizegypt.gov.eg. All products manufactured in the Palestinian territories also may enter the U.S. duty free.

Web Resources Return to top

Ministry of Finance – Israeli Department of Customs & VAT

Regarding Standards Issues:

Standards Institution of Israel

Ministry of Economy

Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce

U.S. Certificates of Origin for Exporting to Israel:

U.S. Commercial Service

U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security:

Bureau of Industry and Security

Labeling/Marking Requirements:

Ministry of Economy

Ministry of Health

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Return to table of contents

Chapter 8: Business Travel

Business Customs Return to top

Israel’s business environment has no particular business protocols; it mainly follows western US style conventions, which makes most U.S. businesspeople feel very comfortable in doing business in Israel.

American business travelers will find the dress code in both the public and private sectors to be much less formal than in the U.S. “Business Suit” maybe appropriate in meetings with high level executives and government officials.

Appointments can be made on fairly short notice; however, reconfirming appointments is advised, given that most Israelis tend to have busy schedules. Israelis arrive well prepared for meetings and are very direct. It’s desired to provide your hosts with an agenda outlining your objectives in advance. Exchange of business cards is common, although some may be less alert by this practice. Therefore, provide your business card early on and politely request one in return, if not offered.

In terms of language, English is widely spoken in the business community and in government offices, but knowing and using a few Hebrew words, especially introductory phrases and greetings, can be useful.

Travel Advisory Return to top

U.S. travelers can refer to State’s International Travel Information for the most up-to-date information on Travel Warnings and Visa Requirements for Israel.

Visa Requirements Return to top

A visa is not required for Americans traveling for tourism or short-term business projects. Visitors are entitled to remain in Israel up to three months from the date of their arrival, in accordance with the conditions of the visa issued to them upon their entrance to Israel.

Visitors intending to work in Israel must submit a request to the Ministry of the Interior for a special visa. For more information please visit:

http://www.gov.il/firstgov/english

U.S. Companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should be advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the following links.

State Department Visa Website: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english.html

US Embassy Israel, Consular section: http://israel.usembassy.gov/consular/niv/nonimmigrant.html

Telecommunications Return to top

Israel has a very competitive and dynamic telecommunications market with one of the highest mobile penetration rates in the world and one of the highest household broadband penetration rates as well. 

According to the UN Department of Economic and social Affairs (2013), 70% of the Israeli population use the internet. There are seven main internet service providers, Bezeq international, NetVisio 013 Barak, 012 smile, Triple Cloud, Xphone 018, HOTnet and Internet Rimon, all whom offer broadband Wireless Internet service to their clients.

While social media has been shaping the scope of today’s field of communication, according to comScore, in 2011 Israel was ranked first in hours spent per visitor on social network websites.


Israel's competitive mobile communications market has expanded and is now served by five mobile network operators, Cellcom, Pelephone, Partner, Hot Mobile and Golan Telecom. Competition has led the mobile network operators to engage in a round of merger and acquisition activity with fixed line players to offer integrated services. The competition was intensified in June 2011 following MVNO (mobile virtual network operator or ‘wireless resale’) licenses to Rami Levi Cellular, Home cellular and YouPhone.

It is estimated that Israel has one of the highest levels in the world of people who own and operate a cell phone on a daily basis. Cell phones for visitors are available for rental at Ben Gurion Airport or through hotels.

Transportation Return to top

Israel has an extensive road network that connects the entire country and has advanced inland and international transport facilities. Rental cars, taxis and limousines with drivers are readily available for U.S. Visitors. U.S. drivers may rent cars with a valid U.S. or international driver’s license.

One of the most notable advances in transport in Israel in recent years has been the modernization of the train system. Commuter trains run from Tel Aviv to most of the large cities from Nahariya in the north to Dimona in the south, including Jerusalem and Ben Gurion Airport. Extensive freight services are available and most often used between Haifa, the port in the north, and Ashdod, Israel’s primary port in the south.

Ben Gurion International Airport offers connections to major international destinations. Ben Gurion is the country’s center of air passenger and cargo operations. Several companies provide internal flights between Tel Aviv, Haifa and Eilat from Sde Dov city airport and Ben Gurion Airport.

There is no public transportation on the Jewish Sabbath (Friday sundown to Saturday sundown).

Ben Gurion International Airport: http://www.iaa.gov.il/RASHAT/en-US/Rashot
Israel Railways: http://www.rail.co.il/EN/Pages/HomePage.aspx

Language Return to top

Hebrew and Arabic are the two official languages of Israel. English is the third and principal international language, and Russian is also prevalent. Many signs in public places are in all three languages. Most Israelis are multilingual.

Health Return to top

Modern medical care and medicines are available in Israel. Service may be somewhat limited on Fridays and Saturdays (the Israeli ‘weekend’) so special attention should be paid for in order to make arrangements in advance for service on these days. Travelers can find information written in English about emergency medical facilities and after-hours pharmacies in the "Jerusalem Post" newspaper.

Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage has proven useful. The international traveler's website for the Center for Disease Control can be accessed at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel

Local Time, Business Hours, and Holidays Return to top

Local Time: UTC + 2 hours (7-6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (EST), and observes daylight savings.)

Business Hours: Sunday – Thursday from 8:00a.m – 5:00 p.m. for most businesses and government offices. Occasionally, business people will be willing to hold meetings on Friday mornings.

The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv is open 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday and closed on U.S. holidays and Israeli holidays.

Israeli Holidays: All businesses in Israel are closed

2014 2015

Passover (1st Day)* Tuesday April 15 Saturday April 4

Passover (Last Day)* Tuesday April 22 Saturday April 11

Israeli Independence Day Tuesday May 6 Thursday April 23

Shavuot (Pentecost) Wednesday June 4 Sunday May 24

Rosh Hashanah (Day 1) Thursday September 25 Monday September 14

Rosh Hashanah (Day 2) Friday September 26 Tuesday September 15

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) Saturday October 4 Wednesday September 23

Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)* Thursday October 9 Monday September 28

Simhat Torah (Rejoicing of the law)* Thursday October 16 Monday October 5

*Note: Some businesses and all government offices are closed during the week of Passover (April 15- April 22, 2014) and Sukkot (September 9 -16, 2014).

Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings Return to top

The ATA Carnet is accepted by Israel. For more information please visit: http://export.gov/logistics/eg_main_018129.asp

It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Israel in Washington or one of Israel's consulates in the U.S. for specific information regarding customs requirements.

For general customs regulations please see our information at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1468.html or http://ozar.mof.gov.il/customs/eng/mainpage.htm

Web Resources Return to top

U.S. Travelers: Online Internet Registration for U.S. citizens

Travel warnings: State - International Travel

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Return to table of contents

Chapter 9: Contacts, Market Research and Trade Events

Contacts Return to top

U.S. Commercial Service, Tel Aviv Post

Market Research Return to top

To view market research reports produced by the U.S. Commercial Service, please go to the following website: http://www.export.gov/mrktresearch/index.asp and click on Country and Industry Market Reports.

Please note that these reports are only available to U.S. citizens and U.S. companies. Registration to the site is required, and is free.

Trade Events Return to top

Please click on the link below for information on upcoming trade events.

http://www.export.gov/tradeevents/index.asp

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Return to table of contents

Chapter 10: Guide to Our Services

The President’s National Export Initiative, announced in his 2010 State of the Union address, aims to double exports over five years by marshaling Federal agencies to prepare U.S. companies to export successfully, connect them with trade opportunities and support them once they do have exporting opportunities.

The U.S. Commercial Service offers customized solutions to help U.S. exporters, particularly small and medium sized businesses, successfully expand exports to new markets. Our global network of trade specialists will work one-on-one with you through every step of the exporting process, helping you to:

  • Target the best markets with our world-class research
  • Promote your products and services to qualified buyers
  • Meet the best distributors and agents for your products and services
  • Overcome potential challenges or trade barriers
  • Gain access to the full range of U.S. government trade promotion agencies and their services, including export training and potential trade financing sources

To learn more about the Federal Government’s trade promotion resources for new and experienced exporters, please click on the following link: www.export.gov

For more information on the services the U.S. Commercial Service offers to U.S. exporters, please click on the following link:

http://export.gov/israel/index.asp

U.S. exporters seeking general export information/assistance or country-specific commercial information can also contact the U.S. Department of Commerce's Trade Information Center at (800) USA-TRAD(E).

To the best of our knowledge, the information contained in this report is accurate as of the date published. However, The Department of Commerce does not take responsibility for actions readers may take based on the information contained herein. Readers should always conduct their own due diligence before entering into business ventures or other commercial arrangements. The Department of Commerce can assist companies in these endeavors.

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