TEL AVIV (Sep. 25)
Israeli officials welcomed today the report from Brussels that negotiations would open soon on a commercial agreement for Israel with the six nations of the European Common Market but they warned that the negotiations would extend over a lengthy period.
David Kochav, chief economic planner in the Ministry of Finance, said that this was one of the most important achievements for Israel not only for short term needs but also for long term development of the economy. The news was described, however, as representing only passing of the first hurdle.
The officials pointed out that talks will have to take place with each country separately on special tariff arrangements for Israeli goods and that 150 separate commodities were involved. They also emphasized that while Britain is still the largest purchaser of Israeli citrus fruits and Israeli products are slowly finding markets in Afro-Asian countries, Europe is still the most important region for Israeli economic activities, both buying and selling.
Israeli officials also noted again that agreement with the Euromart countries would call for internal changes in Israel’s economy and that the entire concept of labor and production would have to be changed if Israel was to compete effectively with other countries both in quality and price. Israel’s hope for increasing its exports remains largely focused on Europe.
They also noted that the first step had come only after lengthy and intensive efforts by Israel. Finance Minister Levi Eshkol visited Euromart capitals three times in connection with the Common Market bid and Israeli officials of various Ministries have virtually been commuters to European capitals.