Timewarp: Industrial development

Credits placed at the disposal of industrial interests by the Jewish Agency and the Anglo-Palestine Bank enabled considerable stocks to be accumulated.

The Palestine Post 311 (photo credit: The Palestine Post)
The Palestine Post 311
(photo credit: The Palestine Post)
The remarkable industrial development which came in this country in the wake of the new immigration of the past seven years and the concomitant large influx of capital from abroad has received a new and powerful stimulus from novel conditions produced by the war. While on the one hand competitive imports from Central and Western Europe were cut off, the local demand for industrial products was augmented by the needs of the neighboring countries of the Middle East which had hitherto depended entirely on European industry. Orders for pharmaceutical and chemical products, for textiles and wearing apparel, came in from every quarter and it seemed for a time that the War might produce in this country an industrial boom equal to that in the building trade which had absorbed the capital and labor resources of the country for nearly a decade. The prospect was all the more welcome as it was evident that other branches of our economy were bound to suffer a setback as a result of war conditions. The citrus trade, hitherto the country’s staple export industry, was faced by unprecedented marketing and transport difficulties. The building trade could hardly expect a recovery as long as immigration and the influx of capital were subject to severe limitations. If unemployment was to be prevented and the country enabled to pay from current production for its current imports of food and raw materials, it was essential that every effort be made to turn the new industrial openings to the best possible account.
Although much has been tried and much has been achieved in this direction during the first ten months of the War, it is evident that the potentialities of the new situation are still very far from having been fully developed.
In some measure this has been due to the difficulties experienced in obtaining raw materials. Credits placed at the disposal of industrial interests by the Jewish Agency and the Anglo-Palestine Bank in the year preceding the war had enabled considerable stocks to be accumulated, but to replenish these became progressively more difficult, while new industrial concerns established since the war did not have even this initial advantage.
Hardly less difficult were the financial questions to be solved. Not inconsiderable funds were available in the banks for local investment, but industrial enterprise of necessity requires long-term credit and cannot, especially under such novel conditions, be entirely free of risk. These factors inevitably limited the ability of the banks to promote development, limitations which became the more acute as the progressive reduction of bank deposits restricted the volume of capital available for investment.
It is in both these directions that the present situation calls for the coordinated efforts of the interests concerned – supplemented, it is to be hoped, by the guidance and assistance of the competent authorities. The purchase, transport and distribution of essential raw materials must be rationally and centrally directed, and under present conditions this can only be effected by a body representing all interests and assisted by the authorities. It has been repeatedly suggested that this scheme should be broadened by the establishment of a comprehensive Industrial Corporation which would give effective backing to sound and nationally important industrial enterprises, and promote the sale of their shares and debentures, and, finally, also offer the requisite framework through which financial help could, in one form or another, be provided by the authorities. It would certainly seem that the time has come for such a scheme to be taken up.
Times and conditions change; and the process by which ground-floor dwellings in Jerusalem were converted into shops during the period of commercial boom is now being reversed.
With the rising demand for housing, a number of shops in the residential quarters which have stood vacant since Muharrem are now becoming “flats” and are rented as soon as their conversion is completed.