Exports of goods, not including diamonds, grew in the months May to July, led by hi-tech products, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Wednesday. Exports increased by an annualized 11.3 percent in the May-July period after falling by an annualized 15.9% during the February-April period. Total exports of goods, 82% of which were industrial, was $3.6 billion in July, while imports were $4.2b., causing a trade deficit of $600 million. In the first seven months of the year the trade deficit averaged $400m., down 63% from the monthly average of $1.1b. in 2008. Hi-tech exports, which make up 52% of industrial exports, rose by an annualized 10.1% in May-July after growing at a rate of 11% in February-April. Growth was driven by an annualized 136.6% rise in exports of electronic components in May-July, mainly due to the start of the new Intel plant in Kiryat Gat. Exports of communication, monitoring, scientific and medical equipment increased by an annualized 8.5% during the same period. The steep plunge in exports of mixed hi-tech goods, which make up 27% of industrial exports, slowed down in May-July to an annualized 17.6% compared with a fall of 49.4% in February-April. Exports within the mixed-traditional technology sector rose by an annualized 12% during May-July after falling by an annualized 40% during February-April. The downturn in imports slowed down to an annualized 5.4% in May-July after falling by an annualized 37.1% in February-April. Imports of raw materials fell by an annualized 0.9% during May-July after falling by an annualized 39.5% in February-April. Imports of investment goods, excluding ships and planes, slowed to an annualized 22.3% in May-July after falling by an annualized 47.7% in February-April. Imports of durable goods rose by an annualized 20% in May-July, mainly due to a 30.7% annualized increase in vehicle imports, ahead of the introduction of the green taxation in August. Imports of consumer goods, including durable goods, rose by an annualized 7.2% in May-July after falling by an annualized 14.9% in February-April. According to an Israel Manufacturers Association report Wednesday, exports of goods and services, not including diamonds, are expected to decline by 13.2% in 2009 after growing at a rate of 7.6% in 2008. Ruby Ginel, deputy head of the association's economics and regulation division, was quoted as saying despite the positive impact of the new Intel plant, industrial exports are forecast to retreat by 13% this year. Neutralizing the impact of the Intel plant, industrial exports are poised to fall by close to 20% in 2009, he said. The association's report estimates that an additional 24,000 workers will be laid off by the end of the year, boosting the unemployment rate to 9%. "The total number of unemployed will increase to 273,000 by the end of this year," Ginel said. The unemployment rate in 2009 was 8.4% on average, or 254,000 unemployed, an addition of 73,000 from the previous year, out of which the majority are newly unemployed who will not find work. In 2008 the average unemployment rate was 6.1%, the report said.