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Special to the JTA Israel’s Secret Weapon Against Inflation is Its High-technology Products for Expo

December 18, 1981
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High-technology products for export are Israel’s secret weapon against inflation, according to an American expert on Israel’s economy, who says Israel’s prospects for continued economic growth are “unlimited in their potential.”

Elmer Winter, chairman of the Committee for Economic Growth of Israel, returned this week from Jerusalem, where he took part in Isratech 81, Israel’s largest exhibition of industrial products. In an interview, he forecast an annual growth rate of 25 percent for Israel’s electronics and computer industries over the next five years.

This economic expansion, Winter predicted, will be reflected in a “soaring volume of exports that will significantly reduce Israel’s trade deficit and ease inflation.”

The spectacular growth of advanced technology in Israel, as reflected in the high level of sophisticated products displayed at Isratech 81, Winter said, stems from the availability of highly-trained scientists, outstanding research and development facilities, a skilled labor force and a wage scale that makes scientific research 40 percent less costly in Israel than in the U. S.

But Israel’s economic growth is also a result of the government’s policy of loans, grants and tax incentives to foreign investors who can create new products for export. The Ministry of Industry and Trade provides industrial research-and-development grants through its Office of Chief Scientist, working with Finance Minister Yoram Aridor.


At Isratech, some 350 foreign buyers and investors found much to impress them. Many of the 200 exhibitors said they had established promising ties with overseas clients and were expecting to conclude transactions in coming months, Elmer Winter said. A number of these will be joint ventures of U. S. and Israeli companies, an increasingly favorable route for foreign investors.

New civilian products exhibited at Isratech 81 ranged from industrial robots to dot matrix displays. In the military sphere, visitors saw reconnaissance drones and F-15 fuel tanks. Metal products involving highly-sophisticated industrial applications — such as carbide tools for industry and blades for jet engines — are one of the fastest growing segments of Israeli industry, according to Winter.

He noted that in 1970 Israel’s exports of metal products and electronics amounted to $100 million. This year that figure will be $1.5 billion — an increase of 1,500 percent.

The executive, a founder and former president of Manpower, Inc. who also served as president of the American Jewish Committee, foresees other strong growth areas in lasers, solar energy software, medical technology and computer-aided design systems.

While impressed by the rapid development of Israel’s science-based industries, Winter expressed some concern that smaller Israeli firms — “despite some of the most advanced products in the world” — might have difficulty in penetrating the American market because they cannot set up the necessary sales facilities.

To help Israeli companies facing this problem, the Committee for Economic Growth of Israel has organized a marketing agency — Isam Trading Company — to provide marketing services to Israeli exporters who cannot afford their own sales and marketing organization in the U. S.

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