New York (Jun. 17)
The progress which has been achieved in the industrial and agricultural development of Palestine and the opportunities for American businessmen to participate in the economic expansion of that country were reviewed at the Palestine Economic Conference held in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel today under the (##)spices of the Palestine Economic Bureau of the Zionist Organization of America in association with the Keren Hayesod.
“Transformation of Palestine from the dormant agricultural and pastoral country it was before the last war to a progressive industrial country of high technical and cultural attainments is already well advanced.” it was pointed out by Robert J. Barr, Chief of the Near East Section, U. S. Department of Commerce, one of the speakers at the evening session. “Palestine should emerge from the war stronger economically that it has ever been before.
“The future of United States trade with Palestine is bright, but serious problems must be solved if the potentialities are to be realised, “Mr. Barr emphasized. “The most important problem affecting American economic relations with Palestine is whether the existing trade controls are going to be eliminated. If they are, the potentialities of United States trade may be realized. If not our exports to Palestine will be limited.
“Palestine needs machinery, motor vehicles, lubricating oils and greases, household and building equipment, pipes and fittings, tools and many other commodities, all of which are potential exports from the United States. In spite of its ancient history, Palestine is a new country. It is now in an expanding economic phase. In this phase the United States can be and has been of great assistance. It may be hoped that the problems standing in the way of more intimate and more extensive economic ties between these two countries may be happily solved.
“Palestine is now exporting out and polished diamonds to the United States at the rate of over $20,000,000 a year, an export which during the war has taken the place of the former principal export, citrus fruit. If these two industries together with the Dead Sea chemical salt industry are maintained after the war, their exports alone are likely to reach $44,000,000, Palestine’s total exports in the the three pre-war years averaged $31,000,000.”
EMPLOYMENT FOR 30,000 PALESTINE WORKERS IN BUILDING INDUSTRY PREDICTED
Revival of the building industry in Palestine, which was almost completely halted during the war years, will provide employment for 30,000 workers during the next four years, declared Eliezer Kaplan, treasurer of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, another speaker at the evening session. Mr. Kaplan arriver here recently from his headquarters in Jerusalem. “The need for additional housing in Palestine has grown acute with the entry of more than 60,000 Jewish refugees since the beginning of the war,” Mr. Kaplan said. “Far greater housing facilities will be required to accommodate the tens of thousands of new immigrants who are expected to arrive in the immediate future from the liberated areas in Europe. Housing and public works will absorb many workers who have been engaged in war industry during the transition period from wartime to peacetime economy.”
The proposed “Jordan Valley Authority” is a significant indication of how American skills and experience can be of help in expanding the economy of Palestine, said Emanuel Neumann, managing director, Palestine Surveys, who also addressed the evening session. “If and when these proposed plans of the J. V. A. are carried out, the absorptive capacity of Palestine will be so increased as to make room for an estimated 2,000,000 additional population without displacing a single Arab or Jew now in the country,” Mr. Neumann explained.
Development of Palestine along modern industrial and agricultural lines has made that country a “going concern,” ripe for investment capital, declared Julius Simon, president of the Palestine Economic Corporation, largest American business enterprise in that country, another speaker at the evening session. “Palestine stands on its own feet economically,” said Mr. Simon, ” and capital invested with normal prudence may expect a return.”
Dr. Israel Goldstein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, urged American Jews to invest capital in Palestine during the next few years, in order to accelerate the conomic progress of that country.