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Israel and US partner for prosperity

Posted By Ahron Shapiro On August 20, 2006 @ 12:00 am In | No Comments

What in the world do graphic design, agriculture technology and legal services have in common? They are three examples of a wide-ranging and growing catalog of professional services that Israeli companies are providing to American businesses and consumers.

A new web site from The Israel Economic Mission and Israel Export Institute has organized and categorized these services. The website, Professional Services from Israel (http://professional-services-israel.export.gov.il) is part of a larger effort to build awareness of the ways American and Israeli businesses and consumers are working together as partners in prosperity.

On the web site, Israeli professional service providers are grouped into twenty eclectic and divergent categories. Their services are marketable for both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) applications.

Zohar Peri, Economic Minister to North America with the Israel Economic Mission to the US, says that there are many situations where turning to Israel for professional services makes the most sense for Americans.

It would be easy to label it as simply outsourcing for the sake of saving a few dollars, but that would not be accurate, Peri says. “It’s not just about cost,” he told ISRAEL21c, noting that other countries — India, for example ? are better known for their cheap labor. “It’s really on the basis of quality.”

Jonathan Jarashow agrees. As founder and president of H. Crimson, a custom publishing agency in New York, he has been responsible for the publishing of over 100 million custom magazines, brochures and calendars over the years. This May, Jarashow together with his Israeli partner Eli Kazhdan, introduced Jerusalem Design, an Israel-based model of his American company.

“We [at H. Crimson] have been encouraging our clients to try [Israeli design] and they have been very pleased with the results,” he says.

Israel has the highest ratio worldwide of engineers in the workforce and the highest ratios in the world of university degrees and academic publications per capita, Peri says, while Israel?s reputation as a haven for innovation, creativity and know-how makes it a natural choice for many Americans seeking a fresh perspective on their projects.

But does outsourcing to Israel cost American jobs? Yes and no, says Kazhdan, who draws upon his previous experience as Israeli government as chief of staff of the Ministry of Industry & Trade, as well as chief of staff of the Ministry of Interior in considering the polemic. Kazhdan contends that, by cutting costs without sacrificing quality, businesses that choose to outsource to Israel can seize a competitive edge, allowing them to grow and expand faster and ultimately add more domestic jobs in other areas.

“There is no doubt that in the era when the world is flat, in Tom Friedman’s terms, there is a constant movement of jobs from one part of the globe to another, capitalizing on the competitive advantages of different areas and countries,” Kazhdan told ISRAEL21c.

“Having said that, I should note that successful outsourcing does not merely transfer work from the US to Israel, but rather uses Israeli skills and expertise to ramp up the business in the United States. When Jerusalem Design cuts costs for US?based customers – without compromising on quality, the US customer is then able to build up his or her core business faster in the US than s/he would have been able to do otherwise.”

Given Israel’s booming high tech industry, it should come as no surprise that the most popular kind of professional services that Israel currently provides to Americans involve technology, such as software development and testing.

Less obvious is Israel’s emergence as a choice for various legal and accounting support services. The reason for this curious development, Peri says, lies largely in American and other Anglo expatriate communities that have arisen in Israel over the years.

“These [professionals] are people who were accomplished in their field and moved to Israel. They know the conditions, the language and legal and accounting systems.”

This close familiarity with American thinking goes beyond the immigrant community, however, notes Peri.

“Many Israeli-born engineers and professionals studied in America and have American degrees,” he says.

In addition to offering high quality, there is another advantage for Americans to consider Israeli professional services: the Israeli workweek.

Since the Israeli workweek begins on Sunday, when most American businesses are shut, there is a day of productivity that can be gained that would otherwise be wasted.

“What most people don’t realize at first is that it is really two days of productivity that are gained, not just one.” The second day, Peri points out, is Monday. Since Israel is seven hours ahead of the eastern United States, when American businesses are just arriving at work, Israeli businesses have had practically a full day’s head start to get even more done.

The Internet allows for near-instant transmission of data, rendering the physical distance between Israel and the United States less relevant, while advances in airfreight shortens the distance for non-digital media.

This dynamic has opened doors to American-Israeli collaboration on projects that used to be strictly local affairs, such as printing.

“Americans are surprised to find that Israeli graphic arts and printing is on a very high level, and with the advantages of the Israeli work week along with overnight shipping, they can get projects done even faster than they could have locally,” Peri says.

Israel’s professional services are truly a partnership with America. Many of the companies listed in the Web directory have opened American offices including some American staff and all have American representatives.

The benefits that Israeli services provide are keeping American businesses competitive in a crowded global marketplace, Peri says. It’s a win-win situation for American businesses and consumers and Israeli service providers alike, filling a niche and a need that would otherwise be vacant, to the detriment of both countries.

Peri likens Israel’s professional services offerings to a very specialized store catering to special needs as opposed to a wholesaler looking to undermine the local economy.

“We are a boutique, not a supermarket,” he says.


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