Industry, Trade and Labor minister Eli Yishai is planning to establish a committee in cooperation with the Finance Ministry to assist manufacturers, whose profits are being hurt by the continued weakening of the shekel-dollar exchange rate, and to help them secure their competitive position. "We very much hope that the government will adopt the measures to assist the manufacturers and come up with a budget plan in order to finance the measures so that they can be put into place", said Shraga Brosh, President of the Israel Manufacturers' Association. "The manufacturers need assistance in order to boost their exports, which in turn would compensate them partly for the damage caused by the shekel-dollar exchange rate." On Tuesday, Yishai presented the government with a set of recommendations regarding measures tailored to assist Israeli manufacturers, who are suffering from the shekel-dollar exchange rate. As part of the proposal, Yishai demanded the establishment of a committee together with the Finance Ministry, which would examine the ways and sources of financing to put the recommendations into place. A month ago, Yishai appointed the chairman of the Israel Export Institute, David Artzi, to head a group charged with examining the measures and tools needed to assist manufacturers. The committee included local manufacturers, representatives of the Industry, Trade and Labor ministry, representatives of the Export Institute, the Bank of Israel and the Israel Manufacturers' Association. With the shekel continuing to strengthen and the dollar weakening in the past ear and a half, Yishai said that the ministry was concerned about the long-term repercussions and the damage likely to result from the weakened dollar. The Israel Manufacturers' Association estimated that the continued weakening of the shekel-dollar exchange rate has cost Israeli manufacturing industry $700 million since the beginning of the year, with the drop especially hurting exporters' profitability and damaging their competitive ability. The assistance measures recommended by the committee include the provision of individual advisory services to small and medium-sized companies on exchange rate hedging measures, assistance in international marketing of products by taking part in conferences, assistance in organizing meetings for cooperation opportunities and new credit lines for long-term financing of exports based on OECD standards.