BRUSSELS (Feb. 21)
Premier Yitzhak Shamir is making some progress convincing leaders of the European Economic Community (EEC) of Israel’s need for favorable treatment in its trade with Western Europe. He made an impassioned plea last night for the Europeans to take into consideration Israel’s dire economic plight, noting its $1.7 billion trade deficit with the EEC.
Today, the EEC agreed to allow Israel to delay by two years the removal of its remaining tariff barriers on industrial goods imported from the 10 EEC member states. Avi Pazner, spokesman for the Israeli delegation, said this concession and a decision to grant Israel special privileges to help protect its struggling industries were “a great success for Israel’s manufacturers.”
Shamir is on a three-day visit here devoted mainly to economic and trade matters. He spoke last night at the EEC-Israel mixed commission, a body that was “frozen” when Israel invaded Lebanon in June, 1982. The fact that the commission has resumed deliberations after a two-year hiatus was hailed by Israeli diplomats as a great success.
A MAJOR GOAL OF SHAMIR’S TRIP
A major goal of Shamir’s trip is protection for Israel’s agricultural exports after Spain and Portugal become full-fledged members of the EEC. Shamir has urged the EEC to take into account that over 70 percent of Israel’s agricultural exports go to Western Europe. He said Spanish agricultural products would squeeze Israel out of this market unless its products were granted special import conditions.
He noted further that unless the situation changes, Spain would be the only EEC member state that has no diplomatic relations with Israel and does not even formally recognize it. This could produce a bizarre situation when and if the Spanish delegate holds the rotating chairmanship of the EEC’s Council of Ministers, Shamir said.
Spain’s Foreign Minister, Fernando Moran, who is also in Brussels, met with reporters today while Shamir was in the same building conferring with EEC officials. Moran said Spain “wants diplomatic relations with all parties in the Middle East,” implying that this includes the Palestinians. He denied that he had asked to meet Shamir and Israeli sources said Shamir had not requested a meeting with the Spanish diplomat.