Interview with Shalom Simhon

Shalom Simhon
Shalom Simhon
Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor
Government of Israel
Government of Israel

Export is the key business of Israel’s textile industry. How is it faring, at present? Which are its major exporting countries and why?

Given rather small size of local market, export plays a crucial part for the textile industry in Israel. However, in last two years, decrease has been recorded in the export of textiles to its traditional overseas destinations, namely the US and Europe, due to economic slowdown. Generally, about 50 percent of Israeli textile exports are shipped to the American market, about 40 percent to the European markets and remaining 10 percent to rest of the world. In 2011, total value of textiles and clothing exports was around one billion USD.

How do you see the segment of textile and clothing industry as well as innovative technologies taking place in Israel?

It is a rather known secret within the ranks of international fashion community that Israel has developed unique capabilities in terms of innovation and technology in the field of fashion design. Many Israeli designers have used these capabilities as a platform to cultivate international reputation by applying homegrown technologies in their work, which makes Israeli fashion design one of the world's most unique, daring and innovative. As a country of immigrants, Israeli design is inspired and influenced by aspects from different cultures merging into one another to create a blueprint for Israeli design. "Shankar" and “Bezalel” fashion design departments are recognized throughout the world for their quality of teaching as they continue to nurture the talents. Nevertheless, technological innovation in Israel does not rest exclusively with fashion design. As the country has also been a leading manufacturer of technical textiles and here, as with the fashion industry, it is locally developed technologies that serve as the foundation of success. Among other applications, Israeli innovation in technical textiles can be found in a range of Kevlar garments that are being developed in Israel; in Israeli-made Anti-Static garments used by Hi-Tech manufacturers; and in the production of geotextiles that have various uses in agriculture or highway building. In addition, Israel has some of the world’s leading manufacturers of non-woven garments. All of the above suggest that Israel’s efforts and consistent allocation of government resources to across-the-board technological R&D is a policy that has essentially been an engine for innovation in many industrial sectors and the local textiles is no different in this sense. Moreover, Israel is also a member to two QIZ (“Qualified Industrial Zone”) agreements that enables the exporting of textile products to the USA free of duty following a joint manufacturing process of such products with Egypt and Jordan – Israel’s partners to such agreements.

How Israel can be the choice of destination for international investors? Which are those encouraging elements that are making it the favorable investment region?

Investors choose Israel for a number of reasons. Country’s large concentration of skilled workers has been recognized by numerous international rankings, and scientific research institutions are ranked first in the world according to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report. Besides, its workforce is also particularly open to creativity because of the informal but effective get-down-to-business culture, exceptional ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit. The WEF ranked Israel 3rd worldwide for innovation and called Israel “an innovation powerhouse.” This spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship, which has earned Israel a nickname, “the start-up nation," has led to many breakthrough technologies that have become a regular part of our lives. Israeli government also works closely with the private sector including technology incubators and an active private venture capital system to help maximize the efficiency with which our homegrown technologies take off globally.
Published on: 27/12/2012

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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