Sagging Trade, Unemployment Rise Point to a Recession in Israel

Israel’s economy appears to be sinking into a recession and business leaders do not expect it to recover this year, despite rosier forecasts by the Treasury.

According to newly released figures, the trade deficit has widened, exports are stagnant and unemployment is on the rise.

Industrial output has fallen 2.5 percent so far this year, on top of a 3.5 percent decline in 1988, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported.

Treasury officials say the immediate effect of the economic downturn has been a sharp drop in tax revenues, which may force a further tightening of the state buget.

Officials of the Manufacturers Association told a news conference in Tel Aviv on Monday that measures the Treasury adopted in January to stimulate economic growth were insufficient.

They accused the country’s economic policymakers of misleading the public, dubbing them the “national anesthetizers.”

Exports have not risen despite the devaluation of the shekel and the erosion of salaries, the business leaders pointed out.

Industrial wages for the first three months of 1989 dropped to the level of the second quarter of 1987.

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