Intel said on Tuesday it had submitted plans to nearly double the scope of its manufacturing operations in Israel, with the government saying the U.S. chipmaker would invest about 18 billion shekels ($5 billion) over the next two years.
The decision by the U.S. maker of semiconductors was expected and the expansion plans don’t call for any upgrade in the technology used at the company’s existing facility in the town of Kiryat Gat. Nor will it involve a major expansion of Intel’s Israeli workforce.
Nevertheless it was greeted as an important achievement for the Israeli economy, raising hopes that Israel would be a leading candidate for an even bigger investment that Intel will be undertaking in 2023, or shortly thereafter, that will involve a technology upgrade.
“Intel’s choice to continue making significant investments in Israel is an important expression of confidence in Israel and the Israeli economy,” said Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon noted that Israel had been competing with several other countries for the investment.
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Intel Israel, which is headed by Yaniv Garty, said it only presented an overall expansion plan to the government on Tuesday and that an precise timetable and details about exact costs and technologies had not yet been disclosed.
Nevertheless, officials hailed the decision by the American company as evidence that Israel remains an attractive destination for international investment after the tax reforms approved by the U.S. Congress at the end of last year that sharply reduced U.S. corporate tax rates.
Intel has had a presence in Israel going back to 1974, and, unlike most multinational tech companies, combined extensive research and development in Israel with a big manufacturing operation, something the Israeli government has been trying to encourage.
Even before the factory expansion gets underway, Intel today employs 11,000 people in Israel and another 1,000 at Mobileye, the automobile-technology it bought last year for more than $15 billion. Last year its exports from Israel reached $3.6 billion, or 8% of the country’s total technology exports.