The Israeli textile industry is expected to grow seven percent in 2007, reaching NIS 10.7 billion, with exports of the product to Egypt expected to surge 30 percent during the year, the Manufacturers Association said Wednesday.
The association also reported that each Israeli textile worker currently produces $60,000 worth of textiles, more than eight times the amount of their Chinese counterparts. Because of this, in 2006, the local textile industry grew 1% despite the fact that 10 factories were closed and 500 workers fired. This year, the industry plans to lay off anywhere between 500 and 1,000 workers. Factories here are being forced to close to keep costs down so the local industry can better compete with cheaper production abroad.
Textile exports to Egypt doubled in 2006, reaching $54m., and are projected to hit $70m. this year, due to the QIZ Agreement (Qualified Industrial Zones) signed with Egypt in February 2005 whereby Egyptian companies can export to the US tax-free, provided that 35% of the product originates in Israel and Egypt with the Israeli component comprising at least 11.7% of the product.
Additionally, it was reported by the Manufacturer's Association that a group of Egyptian textile manufacturers on their way into Israel for a business meeting were stopped recently at Ben-Gurion airport and questioned for a number of hours by Israeli security officers, despite the fact that the businessmen had arrived with the proper documents.
In response, an Egyptian textile manufacturer with operations here stated that he was prepared to move his $10 million a year enterprise back to Egypt.
The Manufacturers Association recommended to the Israel Airports Authority and the Ministry of Transportation that they change their policies in regard to foreign businessmen entering the country in order to avoid similar situations in the future.
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