Israel has vowed its continuing support for the development of the country’s farm sector, and proposed to expand its current exchange program for Filipino agricultural students who want to learn from Tel Aviv’s expertise and advanced technologies in agriculture.
In a recent meeting with Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, Israel Ambassador to Manila Ephraim Ben Matityau also discussed possible investments by Israeli companies in the local business-process outsourcing (BPO) industry and in private-sector start-ups in the information-technology sector.
Matityau said a program he had piloted, in cooperation with the Commission on Higher Education, aims to develop “leaders of change” in the Philippines who will be trained in utilizing Tel Aviv’s technological innovations that have made agriculture a profitable venture for Israel’s richest entrepreneurs.
Israel, for one, invented drip irrigation, which allows dry lands to produce multiple yields.
Under the exchange program, 550 college students, chosen from 29 agricultural schools outside Metro Manila, will be sent to Israel each year to participate in the training program.
Dominguez thanked the ambassador for Israel’s assistance to the Philippines, and agreed with Matityau on the need to explore financial cooperation pacts between the two countries to facilitate trade and investments via Ashra, which is Tel Aviv’s export-credit agency.
“We will certainly support all your efforts, Mr. Ambassador. I’m sure, at one point or another, this will come before us when financing is required, or when projects are required to have the approval of the ICC, of which I am the chairman. ICC is the Investment Coordinating Committee. So you have our support 100 percent,” Dominguez said.
The agreement on technical cooperation in the field of agriculture between Israel and the Philippines dates back to 1964, six years after the two countries signed their Treaty of Friendship on February 26, 1958.
Besides this accord, the Philippines and Israel also forged 13 other bilateral agreements, among them a memorandum of understanding on scientific and technological cooperation, an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation, agreement on mutual assistance in customs matters, a tourism agreement and a cooperation agreement on telecommunications.
Some 30,000 Filipinos live and work in Israel.
Citizens carrying Philippine passports enjoy visa-free entry to Israel as an expression of Israel’s gratitude to the country for allowing many Jewish families to seek refuge in the 1930s to the 1940s to escape the Holocaust.
The Philippines was also the only Asian country to support in November 1947 before the United Nations General Assembly the creation of the State of Israel.