PARIS (Sep. 27)
Israel and the Soviet Union are negotiating an agreement providing for economic cooperation between the two countries, joint ventures and a steep increase in trade, according to trade representatives of the two countries. who are meeting here.
The heads of the two trade delegations on Tuesday signed the draft of a general framework on economic cooperation. The final agreement could be signed as early as Thursday.
The trade negotiations here come on the heels of a Soviet invitation for Israeli Finance Minister Shimon Peres to visit Moscow for economic and political talks.
That invitation was personally extended to Peres in New York last week by Genrikh Borovikh, president of the Soviet Peace Committee and a member of the Permanent Committee on Foreign Relations of the Supreme Soviet.
Borovikh led a Soviet trade delegation to the United States, whose members met with Peres for an hour on Sept. 21. The meeting, something of a coup for Israel, was arranged by Nessim Gaon, Swiss businessman and president of the World Sephardi Federation, who sponsored the visit of the Soviet delegation to the United States.
Increasing Soviet-Israeli contacts on economic cooperation are being seen here as a sign of warming ties between the two countries. But diplomatic sources here say the improvement in ties will stop short of a restoration of full diplomatic relations until there is a breakthrough in the Middle East imbroglio.
JOINT CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE?
Nevertheless, Soviet business leaders reportedly have already arranged trade with Israeli industry through European intermediaries.
The draft agreement sketched out here is the first of its kind since the Soviet Union broke off diplomatic relations with Israel following the 1967 Six-Day War.
The agreement might also provide for the creation of an Israeli-Soviet Chamber of Commerce, with branches in Moscow and Tel Aviv.
That idea was discussed last year when Danny Gillerman, president of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, visited Leningrad. He visited Moscow two months ago.
Gillerman met here with Vladimir Golario, vice president of the Soviet Federation of Chambers of Commerce. The negotiations also were attended by the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s deputy director in charge of economic affairs, Yakov Cohen. The talks were due to continue Wednesday and Thursday.
Gillerman, a prominent Israeli businessman who has taken part in many international economic seminars and trade talks, said in an interview that he was optimistic that the agreement would be finalized and signed Thursday, when the meetings conclude.
He warned, however, that more talks might be necessary, and said the next round might be held in Tel Aviv in one or two months.
The Soviet-Israeli agreement stresses cooperation in agriculture, pharmaceutical production and technology, industrial know-how, citrus fruits, barter agreements and joint ventures.