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Credit crunch shifts Israeli biz focus in China
Updated: 2009-04-20 09:46

Even though some Israeli investment funds fared less well in China, they still believed there are lots of potential sectors if the investors could calmly analyze before pushing the panic button.

GEAM funds, which focused on emerging markets and had assets in the retail jewelry industry in China, accrued heavy losses under the on-going global economic downturn. But its chief analyst Daniel Sueke said there is still plenty of investment opportunity in Chinese retail, and specifically in the jewelry sector.

"Retail has been growing at 20 percent for two to three years now, and within that the jewelry sector grew 40 percent last July. One month it was down because of the earthquake, he said.

"China is a populous nation and the gross domestic product grows 10 to 20 percent yearly. As the middle class grows, the population is becoming more wealthy and consumer habits has turned on luxurious products like jewelry," Sueke added.

Selling Demanded Products to China

According to Amos Yudan, president and chief executive of Commodan Far East, a commercial company with the goal of fostering business between China and Israel, local representation is fundamental to Israeli business success in China.

Yudan noted that Israeli ventures that failed in China due to two reasons, one is no strong enough local representative and office, and the other one is that products were not actually in demand in China.

He said that he did not expect the credit crisis to have much effect on Israeli companies that were focused on niche technologies. "I believe that it will not have a direct effect on what is going on in trade," Yudan told Xinhua.

"If the crisis doesn't worsen significantly it shouldn't have a big influence on exports of Israeli high-tech to China as these are not consumer goods.

"Israeli exports to China grew by 19 percent to $1.20 billion in 2008 from $1.04 billion in 2007. December 2008 also saw a 20 percent rise in exports from November, though exports dropped 20 percent from December 2007.

Yudan noted that the future of Israeli investments in China would depend on the impact of the global credit crunch as well as the effect of the stimulus package and any other economic reforms.

"No doubt about it there is a huge potential in China and Israel has a lot of technology needed in China in many fields, including agriculture, medicine, communications and so on," Yudan said.

"The problem is that future investments are seen as a one-way to bring money to China and the credit crunch has made Israeli investors' access to capital more problematic," he added.

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