Business in brief

Defense budget won't be cut further

Defense budget won't be cut further The Finance Ministry affirmed Sunday that the Defense Ministry's budget will not be reduced beyond the cuts approved in early August, rejecting reports in the Hebrew press as "baseless." "To the extent that additional sources of funding will need to be located in the future ..., the Finance Ministry will present funding sources within the limits of the state budget without changing the deficit and budgetary spending target," said Finance Ministry budget director Kobi Haber. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon approved a NIS 650m. cut to the defense budget in early August, cancelling more than half of the NIS 1.5b. reduction proposed by then Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. China, US lead trade growth China and the United States led Israel's 13-percent trade growth in the first eight months of 2005 over the same period last year, the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce said Sunday. Non-diamond imports to Israel rose by 15% to $23.7b., led by imports from China, which grew by $319m., or 36%, followed by imports from the Netherlands, which grew by $208m., or 23%. Canadian imports to Israel grew by $86m. - to fully 62% more than in the same period of 2004. Israeli non-diamond exports totalled $17.5b. at the end of August, 11% more than in the first eight months of 2004, led by exports to the US, which grew by $531m., or 12%. Exports to Cyprus grew by $113m., to 48% more than that country imported in the same period last year. Unilever may invest NIS 12m. Unilever Israel is considering investing NIS 12m. to expand the Telma-Blue Band factory on Haifa Bay, Unilever Israel CEO Moti Keren told Haifa mayor Yona Yahav. The Haifa Airport's runway will be moved in order to enable the factory's expansion, Yahav told Keren. The current facility employs some 400 workers on roughly 100 dunams in the production of food products sold mostly under the Blue Band, Telma, and Knorr labels. Unilever Israel, the country's fourthlargest food producer with facilities throughout Israel, was founded in Haifa in 1938. The company is a subsidiary of Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch food concern active in roughly 150 countries.