The Israeli government’s economic mission to Canada is opening up an office in Calgary to service Western Canada.
Israeli Consul General Amir Gissin told The CJN that there is huge potential to increase trade between Israel and Western Canada with an office in Calgary.
“We want to give Israeli companies the chance to find Canadian partners and vice versa,” Gissin said.
The Israel Economic Mission in Canada aims to promote trade, investment opportunities and joint ventures between Canada and Israel. The mission’s Canadian head office is in Toronto, and there is also a branch in Montreal. The Calgary office will be the first in Western Canada.
Jonathan Levy, Israel’s trade commissioner, said that bilateral trade between Canada and Israel has been on the rise, now amounting to “about $1.5 billion, with a surplus to Israel, meaning that Israel exports more to Canada than she imports.
“We realize that without an on-the-ground presence in Western Canada, it is difficult to achieve business results that we want to achieve. We are missing a lot of opportunities that we can capitalize on,” he said
One of the reasons that Calgary was chosen for what Levy described as this “pilot project” is that the Calgary Economic Development Centre and the three-time mayor of Calgary, David Bronconnier, have been actively promoting the city as a place for conducting international business.
“They are creating an international centre and providing office services in a very accommodating way, that will give us good access to the economic organizations of the city. Israel is one of the first countries that are going to try this model, and the city of Calgary is very eager to have us come aboard,” said Levy.
He added that Israel will be looking to form partnerships with Canadian companies in the fields of “IT, medical devices, and clean-tech [environmental technology] in areas such as water and renewable energy.”
Levy said “more than 95 per cent of all laptop computers have been designed in Israel” and that the “BlackBerry has an Israeli heart.”
Gissen told The CJN that “it is only natural for Canada to look to Israel in the high-tech field”
He added, “In a sophisticated world, every country is looking for strategic partnerships… The Israeli and Canadian economies have one thing in common – both focus on American markets. The difficulties in the U.S. market have caused Israel and Canada to look less towards the U.S and more towards each other.”
Levy said that the person hired to staff the Calgary office, “will not be a [government] diplomat,” but rather a local, non-Israeli professional person who is familiar with the Western Canadian business scene.”
He added that if the pilot project works in Calgary, it is possible it will be replicated in other cities in Canada. He also noted that the choice of Calgary “was made for business reasons only, and was not a “political” decision.
Although the Jewish community in Calgary is relatively small, Gissen said that was not a factor in the decision to open an office in Calgary. “We’re coming to Calgary to do business,” he said.