Business in Brief

IMF, World Bank representatives in Israel

Prof. Augusto Lopez-Claros of the World Bank is visiting Israel this week following the release of this year's Doing Business report, which rates regulations affecting companies in 185 economies and ranks the economies in 10 areas of business regulation. Lopez-Claros met Monday with Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and senior ministry officials, as well as with Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer. A delegation from the International Monetary Fund is also visiting Israel and met with Steinitz. The delegation heard an up-to-date report on the Israel's economy. (Moti Bassok )

43% fewer tourists visited during Gaza war

The effect on tourism of last month's Operation Pillar of Defense is becoming clear - and it's not pretty. From mid-November, when the Gaza operation started, to the end of the month, there was a 43% drop in incoming tourism. If on average 9,800 tourists entered Israel daily before the fighting, the number fell to 5,600 during the operation, the Central Bureau of Statistics said. All told, November saw a 12% drop in tourists compared to November 2011. The Tourism Ministry said that if not for Pillar of Defense, November would have been an excellent month. (Rina Rozenberg )

Mass transit fares won't rise in January

Public transportation fares will not rise in January, the Transportation Ministry announced Monday. They were supposed to rise 2.7% on average at the beginning of 2013, based on the increase in the consumer price index, said Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz. But Katz forgot to mention in his announcement, in which he took credit for stopping the fare increase, that prices were not supposed to rise in any case. An agreement between the transportation and finance ministries from a year ago stated that inflation below 3% would not trigger a fare rise. Public transportation fares are updated twice a year based on inflation; they last rose at the start of this year. (Daniel Schmil )

Czech Airlines to fly Israelis to Seoul

Czech Airlines is offering a new destination for Israeli travelers, flights to Seoul, South Korea via Prague. The regularly scheduled flights will operate on a code-share basis with Korean Airlines starting in June. The Czechs plan two weekly flights on Saturdays and Sundays using Airbus A-330s. Korean Airlines already offers flights from Seoul to Tel Aviv. The new route is a vote of confidence in the potential for business travel to the Far East, especially South Korea, said a company spokesman. Czech Airlines said it plans to add more destinations for Israeli customers, particularly in Europe. (Zohar Blumenkrantz )

U.S., Israel eye deal to help Israeli exporters

The Israel Tax Authority agreed with U.S. Customs last week to try to forge a mutual recognition agreement with the U.S. Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism. Doron Arbeli, the Tax Authority's director, signed along with David Aguilar, the deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Arbeli is on a working visit to the United States and Canada. An agreement would make it easier for Israeli exporters to get their goods into the United States. Aguilar called the current efforts another example of the friendship and partnership between the two countries as they address the challenges of securing their borders and facilitating trade and travel. (Moti Bassok )