The Chamber of Commerce and Industry aims to help businesses in northern Israel to become economically independent For years, businesses in Haifa and the North were complaining about being underprivileged in comparison with Tel Aviv District and the Sharon region, in terms of less customers and suppliers, remoteness from the decision-making center, and higher freight costs.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Haifa and the North decided to change that. And while Haifa cannot be hauled over to Tel Aviv, businesses from around the world can be motivated to establish connections with Haifa and the North; this is an integral part of the support system that the Chamber offers businesses these days.
At the beginning of 2015 a new administration was chosen at the Chamber, and its members decided to promptly develop conditions that will gain advantage to businesses in Haifa and the North.
David Castel, the Chamber’s President: “International activities were enhanced, and ties with ambassadors and foreign commercial attachés and international bodies were tightened, with the intention of offering the members a variety of options to intensify their business connections abroad. The Commerce’s international activities are organized by its Foreign Relations and Information Center, which is also involved in organizing personal meetings for Chamber members with commercial attachés and foreign commercial delegations.
“We have hosted delegations from all over the world, in many cases in collaboration with Haifa Municipality. Business connections are the basis for creating healthy relationships between communities and cities, and Haifa Municipality fully comprehends the importance of such connections. Hence, on June 30th a delegation from Antwerp will arrive at the city hall, and we will sign an agreement with the Antwerp chamber of commerce.
“Haifa Chamber of Commerce annually organizes a delegation of businessmen and businesswomen who travel to examine business opportunities in different markets. In the current year we also hosted quite a few delegations from China. It is my opinion that Israel only scratched the surface of the potential of the trade with the PRC. Here there are big business opportunities that businesses in Haifa and the North could utilize.
“There’s a long list of business delegations, ambassadors and commercial attachés who visited the Chamber; 400 international relations-related activities were carried out over the past year. We also host senior officials from developing countries, who come to Israel for continuing education; these groups are the administrative reserve of the business world and statesmanship in the developing countries.
Reception for the San Francisco delegation
“The Chamber of Commerce creates also a solid foundation for the development of business relationships with other countries via the Internet. The business environment has changed, and relations with clients and suppliers from abroad are no longer the sole prerogative of big companies. The whole world is now also the business environment of small and medium businesses. Being the leading business organization in northern Israel, the Chamber of Commerce has built an infrastructure that can help businesses to seize the appropriate opportunities. We have launched a new service: a repository of business proposals from all over the world, available for viewing and downloading. This system introduces international business offers in real time, allowing searches by countries, branches, and types of export/import activities.
“Many of the businesses that are members of the Chamber deal with import and export, and for us, therefore, an important part of developing business connections with overseas is the removal of various barriers on entry created in the Standards Institution, to make it easier for businesses.
“The physical infrastructure is instrumental to the development of business ties with foreign countries. The Chamber of Commerce and industry of Haifa and the north is adamant about the establishment of the new and modern Bay Port, and vehemently supports the struggle for the renewal and improvement of the existing port. We harness business and political forces in the North to promote the establishment of an international airport in the North. For more than twelve years, the Chamber is demanding to build the airport, which will allow residents of the North to develop an economy that does not depend on Tel Aviv and the Sharon, by way of developing an extensive network of hotels, restaurants and landscape tourism, alongside religious tourism.
“Consolidation of the northern forces strengthens the ability to demand of decision makers to make and implement decisions that will promote the region’s economy. Last year we held hundreds of meetings with ministers, Knesset members, mayors and various economic factors, in order to create the necessary cooperation. We can already see budding signs of success.
“Using these methods and more, we were able to distinguish the Chamber of Commerce and industry of Haifa and the North as a body that helps create successful business relationships between northern Israeli companies and overseas companies.
“The process is ongoing. We have put Haifa and the North on the business map in many countries around the world, and we continue to work to not just be on the map, but be at its very center!”
Main photo: Castel, Mayor Yona Yahav, Mayor of San Francisco Ed Lee