Jerusalem (Mar. 29)
– Israel’s participation in the international trade fair in Cairo which just ended after a two-week run was hailed today by Minister of Trade and Industry Gideon Patt as “another step in the direction of full normalization” of relations between Israel and Egypt. Patt, who attended the fair, also told his fellow ministers at today’s Cabinet meeting that the Israeli-Egyptian trade agreement, expected to be ratified this week by the Egyptian Parliament, should lead to a great increase of Egyptian imports from Israel.
“This will open the door for the public sector in Egypt to trade with Israel, “Patt said. Until now, trade contacts have been confined to the government-to-government level. Israel’s exports to Egypt to date total $12 million but there have been no Egyptian exports to Israel. Ministry officials who helped staff the Israeli pavilion at the trade fair forecast that trade between the two countries would amount to a $100 million within three years.
An estimated 300,000 people visited the Israeli pavilion at the Cairo trade fair. During its first week, when the fair was open to business people only, between 2000-3000 potential Egyptian buyers
examined the Israeli goods displayed. During the second week, when the fair was open to the public, about 30,000 Egyptians a day visited the Israeli pavilion.
DEFER DECISION ON TEACHERS’ SALARY
At the request of Premier Menachem Begin and Education Minister Zevulun Hammer, the Cabinet agreed today to defer a final decision in the dispute with teachers over a pay raise until the Arbitration Institute determines whether the increase would constitute a deviation from the general wage agreements.
Agreement was reached earlier this month between the government and the teachers union on pay increases. But its implementation has been held up by the Treasury on grounds that it would cause the collapse of the present wage structure in the economy by triggering demands from other public employes. The teachers staged a one-day strike last week to protest the Treasury’s refusal to honor the agreement.
The Cabinet also agreed today that work on the proposed Mediterranean-Dead Sea canal hydro-electric project would begin in the near future. The canal route already has been approved. Energy Minister Yitzhak Modai proposed that the work start at the eastern end of the route, close to the Dead Sea. According to Modai, more than $25 million has been invested in the two months since the Israel Bond Organization began a campaign on behalf of the $700 million project in the United States and Europe.