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Presidents Conference to Promote U.S. Trade, Investment in Israel

June 26, 1984
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The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations will mobilize the resources of its 38 member organizations to promote American trade with and private investment in Israel, it was announced here today by Yehuda Hellman, executive vice chairman of the Conference.

A Task Force on Israel’s Economy will be formed for the purpose, Hellman said after a briefing of Conference members by Elmer Winter, chairman of the Committee for Economic Growth of Israel. Its members will be appointed by Kenneth Bialkin, chairman elect of the Presidents Conference, shortly after he takes office July 1, Hellman said.

Winter, a former president of the American Jewish Committee, was optimistic over the long term potential of Israel’s economy despite its current difficulties. “I regard the present period in Israel’s economy as the darkness before the dawn,” Winter said. He praised the Israeli government for “imposing tough measures of economic reform and reaching an agreement with the United States on economic cooperation.”


He saw a major boost for Israel’s exports after enactment of legislation for a bilateral Israel-U.S. Free Trade Area (FTA), one of the elements of the economic cooperation agreement, which will allow Israel-made products to be sold duty-free in the U.S. American products would be able to enter Israel free of tariffs under the bill now pending in Congress.

According to Winter, “FTA would substantially assist Israel’s high technology industries and constitute a boon for Israeli exports, perhaps by as much as 30 percent.” It would also open new export opportunities for American manufacturers, he pointed out.

Winter urged the Presidents Conference to launch a letter-writing campaign to Senators and Representatives in support of the FTA legislation. He also reported that the Jerusalem Economic Conference and the Isratech ’84 exposition in Tel Aviv which he attended last month were both highly successful. The Economic Conference drew about 400 businessmen and industrialists from abroad to explore investment opportunites in Israel. Isratech was a showcase for Israel’s high technology industries.

Hellman noted that the projected Task Force will seek to assist Israel’s economy by encouraging investment in its export industries. “Israel’s economic situation has a direct bearing on its political freedom of action. Only an economically independent Israel can be a politically independent Israel,” he said.

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