Greek Invasion Seen Blow to Palestine Trade; Exports Dropped in ’40

Palestine, already severely pinched economically by the war-born curtailment of commercial traffic in the Mediterranean, is likely to sustain further commercial losses through the extension of the area of conflict to Greece, according to reports received by the Commerce Department.

“Shipments to Greece and through it to the Balkans constituted one of the few foreign trade outlets left to Palestine and additional business setbacks will undoubtedly be suffered because of the extension of war in that direction,” a foreign trade expert declared.

Reports from the Near East say little optimism is being felt over the prospect of action in the immediate future on negotiations of a new trade agreement with Syria and the feeling here is that the extension of the war, coupled with closer relations between France and Germany, will make trade talks more difficult than before.

Trade with Syria, representing about 10 per cent of Palestine’s exports and imports, has been at a standstill since the collapse of France in June. Curtailment of imported materials has hampered many Palestine industries, adding to unemployment and causing marked price advances in many commodities, Commerce Department officials reported. Credits are severely restricted and all current transactions are for cash.

Exports in the first six months of 1940 were valued at only £1,834,000, in contrast to the valuation of £4,061,000 placed on exports in the same period of 1939. Reduced shipments of citrus fruits, normally comprising about 80 per cent of exports, were held primarily responsible for the decline, but severe losses were also felt in potash and bromine shipments.

Imports, totaling £7,468,000, were only a little less than the valuation of £7,701,000 placed on imports of the first six months of 1939.

Hope is felt that special efforts directed toward expansion of agricultural production will bring the trade balance into a little better alignment by reducing imports of foodstuffs somewhat, but it is not believed that any immediate result will have any considerable effect on the general situation. The Palestine Government recently allotted £100,000 for loans to farmers for purchase of seed and fertilizer, tractor hire and extension of cultivation and irrigation facilities.

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