Israel Ambassador commits to pursue collaboration with PH

Published November 21, 2021, 10:25 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Israel is committed to pursue collaboration with the Philippines in the areas of technology, innovation and medicine, according to its new ambassador to Manila.

Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Ilan Fluss confirmed at the “Pandesal Forum at Kamuning Bakery Café” that lots of cooperation are going on between the two countries.

In agriculture, the ambassador said that cooperation in agriculture technology is being discussed and is handled by its economic section. He mentioned of an Israeli initiative for an irrigation project in the country using solar technology to help Philippine agriculture.

Fluss also said that he met recently with Defense Secretary Eduardo Año to discuss cooperation in defense and military training.

On medicines, the ambassador explained that Israel is not yet into COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing, but they are going into that. He said that Israel is still in the second stage in their clinical research for COVID-19 vaccine.

“We are open to discuss partnership with the Philippines,” he said. In fact, he said, that an Israeli firm is already looking into the manufacture of medicines in the Philippines, but may not be necessarily COVID-19 vaccines.

Meantime, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority announced the approval of Israeli-Filipino joint venture Savepoint Biotek for its proposal to manufacture oral COVID-19 vaccines.

According to PEZA, Savepoint is investing P83 million initially for the project to be located in the Pampanga Economic Zone. The joint venture even projected annual sales of $180 million from the Philippines and export markets.

A source privy to the project application said the company has projected annual sales of $180 million of which 70 percent is expected to come from its export markets Asia Pacific and Africa. The project is also expected to employ 425 workers upon full commercial operation.

Sources said that partners, the Filipino and the Israel pharmaceutical firm, are still finalizing their equity structure. While waiting, the source said, the project would be represented by the Filipino group.

Savepoint is the first among several vaccine manufacturing firms that have expressed interest to locate in the country.