Israeli exports are changing direction, from west to east. Figures from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor show that Israeli manufacturers have been increasingly targeting the fast-growing markets of Asia, partly at the expense of the United States. But despite Europe's economic travails, exports to that area have stayed firm.

Analysts have long urged Israel's manufacturers to step up marketing to the faster-growing economies of Asia at the expense of the west, in order to sustain export growth. Indeed, as the western economies contended with crisis during the last two years, Israel's manufacturers seem to have done that very thing.

India leaped up to become Israel's second largest export market, up from eighth, in the first half of 2010, according to figures from the Export and International Cooperation Institute.

China climbed to 5th place, up from 11th place.

Exports to Asia in general have increased: Their share of Israeli exports is now 20%, compared with 18% in the first half of 2009.

Meanwhile, the United States' share of Israeli exports shrank to 28% in the first half, compared with 33% in January-June 2009. But the figures were skewed to a degree by Intel Israel. That single company sold significantly less to the U.S. this year and stepped up sales to China.

Europe has traditionally been a major target market for Israeli exporters, partly due to its relative physical proximity, certainly compared with North America. Shauli Katznelson, head of the Economics Department at the Export Institute, says exports to Europe increased from 28% in the first half of 2009 to 31% this year.

Still, the United States remains Israel's biggest target market. Export to the U.S. (excluding diamonds ) came to $5.7 billion in the first half of 2010, an increase of 8% in dollar terms compared with the corresponding six months of 2009.

Most of the increase was in drug exports to the U.S., which leaped 27% to $2.2 billion. The biggest Israeli exporter to the U.S. is Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, followed by Plasan Sasa, which makes armor systems (think armored vehicles, armoring for aircraft and ships, personal protection systems and so on ).

Intel Israel was also one of the biggest exporters to the U.S. this year, as it stepped up chip production in Kiryat Gat.

India was the second-biggest market in the first half of 2010 for Israeli exports, which totaled $990 million, an increase of 102% in dollar terms. The reason was a 63% leap in exports by the mining, minerals and quarrying sector, which exported $228 million worth of products (a lot of fertilizer ) to the sub-continent. One of the biggest exporters to India in this sector is Dead Sea Works, a subsidiary of Israel Chemicals.

Electronics equipment (and warfare systems ) exports to India grew from less than $10 million in the first half to $160 million. Major exporters include ECI Telecom and Comverse, TowerJazz, Elbit Systems and Rafael.

Exports to India of metals and metal products increased from $21 million to $130 million, an increase of 524%.

China rose to fifth place with exports of $755 million, an increase of $115 million in dollar terms, mainly because export of electronic components shot up 280% to $268 million in the first half (for that, thank Intel Israel again ). But other sectors also found markets in China, including metal goods, medical devices, measurement equipment, computer systems and agricultural exports.

Turkey dropped from sixth to eighth place.