Soviets Seeking Trade with Israel Estimated to Be Worth Millions

In what appears to be just the beginning of a huge trade market between the Soviet Union and Israel, a high-level Soviet trade delegation recently arrived in Israel to purchase hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of food, including fresh vegetables, meat, cheese and canned goods.

According to a report in Al Hamishmar on Monday, the Soviets are prepared to sign long-term contracts.

Sources say that if Israeli suppliers fulfill the contracts, it will be possible to increase agricultural exports, which would benefit the Israeli food industry tremendously.

The agriculture deals would involve barter, with the Soviets exchanging oil, diamonds, gold and chemicals for food. The talks are being handled by the Agriculture Ministry.

Israel already has sold the Soviet Union “several million dollars” of goods this year, the Jerusalem Post reported Monday, quoting an Israeli businessman who trades with Eastern bloc nations.

Yossi Priel, the head of Idam Communications, a marketing consultant firm, told the Post that about 20 Israeli companies have either finalized deals or are negotiating contracts to sell their goods — mostly electronics and agricultural — in the Soviet Union through his firm.

The sales are arranged through European intermediaries.

In Moscow last week, senior Soviet officials told Arye Levin, Israel’s senior consular representative in the Soviet Union, that their country was interested in importing Israeli fruits and vegetables and in acquiring Israeli agricultural know-how.

Ha’aretz, meanwhile, reported Monday that the number of Soviet travelers who visit Israel via Cyprus has reached an all-time high, and that demand is so great that return flights to the USSR won’t be available until mid-September.

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