JERUSALEM (Jun. 9)
Top American industrialists and leading Israeli businessmen got together here this week for the first meeting of the joint U.S.-Israel Business Council, a body established by the two countries to encourage trade between them and further American investments in Israel. The American delegation, headed by former Gov. George Romney of Michigan, lunched with Premier Yitzhak Rabin yesterday. Romney, who served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the first Nixon Administration and formerly headed American Motors, declared to his Israeli hosts. “We are here because we want to help.”
He read a message of encouragement from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Elliott Richardson and assured Rabin that the Departments of Commerce State, Treasury and all other U.S. government agencies were deeply interested in the success of the joint business council. Romney, a Mormon, said his religious faith led him to believe that both Israel and the U.S. were God’s divine instruments in the unfolding of human destiny.
The meetings of the American and Israeli business leaders are closed to the press and public. They include briefings by Israeli officials and experts on potential investment opportunities and a review of Israel’s economic problems and challenges. Rabin told the luncheon meeting that his government would press ahead with policies aimed at making Israeli industrial products as sought after abroad as are its agricultural products. “The government must steer the national economy in such a way that our people must work harder, consume less and produce much more for export,” he said. “Yet we must do this without creating unemployment, for under Israel’s unique conditions, unemployment could greatly weaken the fabric of our developing society.”
3 ECONOMIC GOALS
The Premier said Israel’s three economic goals were continued economic growth; reinforcement of its competitive capacity; and closer integration into the international economy. He said Israel’s links with the European Common Market with which it recently concluded tariff agreements and its geographical proximity to European markets, should “be of interest” to potential American investors.
The Central Bureau of Statistics reported today that the net export of goods during the period Jan.-May, 1976, totalled $961 million compared to $820 million during the same period last year, an increase of 15 percent. The Bureau said that industrial exports, excepting finished diamonds, had increased by 13 percent while the export of polished diamonds was up 22 percent and agricultural exports up by 20 percent.