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U.S. Investments in Israel Housing Reported by Rassco Director

Considerable building for American investors and for ### American Jewish organizations is being done in Israel by Rassco, a rural and suburban settlement company in Tel Aviv, it was reported here last night at a reception given by the Jewish Agency in honor of Dr. Yeshayahu Foerder, managing director of Rassco, who is a member of the Israel Parliament.

Mr. Foerder, who was greeted by Dr. Nahum Goldmann, chairman of the Jewish Agency, said that his company has invested 12,000,000 Israeli pounds during the current fiscal year in housing and new settlements. “We are building hundreds of homes for American landsmanschaften,” he reported. “Rassco is also building public institutions in Israel for such organizations as B’nai B’rith and the American Jewish Congress. We have initiated some joint ventures with a group in Chicago and with a group in California where we are carrying through bigger development projects on equal terms–the American investors providing the dollars and Rasaco providing an equal sum in pounds.”

Discussing the general economic situation in Israel, Dr. Foerder stated that the decrease in Israel’s foreign currency indebtedness and the increase in agricultural production constitute “important signs” of Israel’s economic progress.

Israel’s disproportionate trade balance is still a serious problem, he said, but there was a “substantial improvement at the beginning of 1953,” he declared. Calculated on the basis of one Israel pound to one dollar, “imports in the first five months of 1953 amounted to 42,000,000 pounds and exports 11,595,000 pounds. This means our trade deficit, payable in foreign currency, decreased by 10,000,000 pounds as compared with the deficit in the first five months of 1952.

“There are very encouraging signs that we may be able to increase exports and decrease imports to an extent that we will be able to stand on our own feet in five years, ” Dr. Foerder reported. He noted Israel’s record budget of 216,000,000 pounds for the current fiscal year and stressed the urgency of cutting expenses. This will be very difficult in view of security and immigrant absorption expenses, but there is no alternative, he said.

He predicted increased income from direct taxes and added that the income expected from the German-Israel reparations agreement “can provide us with about 25 to 30 percent of the currency we need and can enable us to invest more money in big development projects which, in the long run, will improve our balance of trade,”

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