Manufacturing exports rose by 1 percent in real terms to $3.9 billion in the first two months of the year while hi-tech exports declined by 0.3%, leaving manufacturers concerned about the slow rate of export growth. The drop in hi-tech exports came after three consecutive months of growth, according to figures published by the economics division of the Manufacturers' Association of Israel. The numbers do not include diamond exports. "The volume of growth is far away from the export growth potential, which is estimated to reach between 15% to 20% annually," said Manufacturers' Association President Shraga Brosh. On the basis of the potential annual growth rate, a gross domestic product, or GDP, growth rate of 6% to 7% could be reached and the unemployment rate would be expected to drop to 5%. During January and February, the Manufacturers Association said exports in chemicals, electronic equipment and machinery increased by 1% in real terms, while exports in food, textile, furniture, paper and print rose 0.5%. Manufacturing exports to the US rose by 7%, whereas exports to European Union countries dropped by 6%. Exports to Latin America, Africa and the Middle East also dropped by 0.5%, while exports to East Asia rose by 4%.