Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz looks through nigh.
(photo credit: Finance Ministry)
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and a delegation of
Treasury officials visited factories in Sderot on a fact-finding
"We are visiting Sderot and the Gaza Strip
periphery to understand the needs of the area and the factories to
learn how to help them," he said.
During tours of factories of food company Osem Investments Ltd.
and defense company Elbit Systems
Ltd. in Sderot, Steinitz met with
managers and workers to get an overview of the economic situation. Over
the coming months, he said, he would be visiting factories across the
country that have suffered from economic and security threats over the
last few years.
Steinitz said he welcomed the Bank of Israel's change of policy
in the foreign-exchange market and its decision to halt its daily
purchases of $100 million. But he emphasized that governments could no
longer fix exchange rates.
Israel Export Institute chairman David Artzi on
Tuesday told the Knesset
Finance Committee exports were contributing 50
percent to the growth of the economy. An increase of $3 billion in
exports adds 33,000 jobs, narrows the unemployment rate by 1 percent
and raises gross national product by 1.2%, he said.
"I call upon the government and the Bank of Israel to continue
to take the necessary measures to help weaken the shekel and strengthen
the dollar opposite the basket of currencies over the next couple of
months," Artzi said.
Since the last quarter of 2008, the depreciation
of the dollar has lowered exports of goods and services, not including
diamonds, by $2.5b. to $3b., he said.
The export institute published a report showing that exports to
the US plunged 30% in dollar terms in the first six months of the year
to $7.5b. compared with the same period last year. It expects exports
to the US throughout 2009 to fall by 24% in dollar terms to $15.2b.
Over the last decade, exports to the US, including diamonds, rose 10%
in dollar terms on average, the report said.
Exports to the US, not including diamonds, dropped by 10% in
dollar terms to $5.3b. in the first half of the year and are expected
to fall by 12% to $10b. for the entire year, the report said.
Hi-tech exports to the US rose by 4% in the first six months of
the year, mainly led by a surge in electric-components exports, which
made up 24%. Exports of electronic components to the US jumped by 500%
in the first half of the year to $872 million from $147m. in the first
half of 2008.
However, hi-tech exports to the US in 2009 are expected fall by 18% in dollar terms, the report said.