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Sales turnover of Israeli hi-tech sales climbed 6% I n2005 compared with the year before to $16.6 billion, says Elisha Yanay, chairman of the Israel Association of Electronics & Information Industries.

Yanay, who is also president of Motorola Israel, predicts 10% growth in 2006 to turnover of $18.2 billion. He assumes the world economy will continue to grow while Israeli companies will pursue marketing abroad.

Israel's hi-tech exports increased 6% in 2005 compared with the previous year to $14.2 billion, Yanay says.

During the year 2005, according to Yanay, hi-tech companies hired 2,300 people directly, increasing the combined hi-tech workforce by 4% to 57,200 people.

Companies supplying services to hi-tech fired thousands of people during the year, he estimates.

A breakdown by export sector shows that software sales increased 12% in 2005 to $3.85 billion. Export of communications gear increased 11% to $3.08 billion.

Export by the electronics industries increased 8% I n2005 compared with the year before to $2.2 billion, while export of medical equipment shot up 17% to $1.1 billion.

One sector that contracted was export of electronic components. That shrank by 14% year over year, thanks in no small part to the upgrade of Intel's plant in Kiryat Gat.

Yanay also said that Israeli hi-tech companies bought 15 foreign ones during 2005, for a combined $900 million.

In parallel, foreign companies bought ten Israeli hi-tech companies for $6000 million.