Israeli official courts more trade with state

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Daily Oklahoman
Jon Denton
06/20/2000

Oklahoma exporters have machines, culture and agriculture that are of interest to Israel, Israeli Consul General Zion Evrony said Monday.

The Middle Eastern country also is ready to sell – high technology included, Evrony told a luncheon audience.

“Ladies and gentlemen, trade is the economic engine of the 21st century,” the Houston-based consul general said at the Marriott Hotel.

Since Israel has few natural resources, it makes the most of its artificial intelligence. “We are now called the ‘Silicon Valley’ of the Middle East,” the consul said.

Evrony was the final speaker at a half-day seminar on trade with Israel. About 80 people attended from business and government. Among them was Sara Sanditen, president of the Tulsa-based Oklahoma Israel Exchange.

“There are a lot of companies that do big business with Israel, but they are bigger companies,” she said after Evrony’s speech. “We are trying to help smaller companies.”

Oklahoma trade with Israel can use some help, said David Strawn, an economist at the Oklahoma Commerce Department.

“Israel is a tiny percentage of Oklahoma’s trade,” he said when contacted at his office. “In manufacturing exports, it’s mostly transportation equipment – anything from airplanes to automotive parts.”

Last year, Israel ranked No. 37 among countries importing manufactured products from Oklahoma, Strawn said. Commerce Department records measured $10.2 million in Oklahoma-Israeli sales. Transportation equipment accounted for about 70 percent of the sum.

Although Israel has few natural resources, an Oklahoma company has helped change history, Evrony said. Ardmore’s Noble Affiliates, through its Samedan Oil Corp. subsidiary, recently discovered natural gas in the Mediterranean Sea. The gas zone is off Israel’s shore.

Oklahoma farmers also target Israel, Sanditen said. In past years, Israel has bought most of its wheat from Oklahoma.

“We’re now trying to put Oklahoma on the tourism map for Israel,” she said. “We’ve got cowboy and Western culture, and the Native American, which is unique to our state.”