When the Manufacturers Association of Israel decided to launch a blue and white campaign to promote the purchase of “Made in Israel” products, it opted not to ask a pretty young internationally known model or a prominent theatrical personality to be its presenter.Instead it chose a 90-year-old man with a lot of experience albeit more on the political than the commercial campaign trail.Nonetheless, when asked, President Shimon Peres instantly took up the challenge and even coined a slogan that rings well in Hebrew, though it’s a little awkward in English.Konim mutzarim kahol lavan lo mitoch hitnadvut ella bezchut ha’eichut (“We buy blue and white products not out of volunteerism but because of their quality”).Throughout his tenure, Peres has made a point of putting visits to factory plants on his agenda. However, he is doing so not only to acquaint himself with Israel’s industrial innovations and output, but also to encourage increased productivity and diversity.Peres was greatly impressed on Wednesday in the course of a campaign visit to Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael 30 km. south of Haifa.Ma’agan Michael is Israel’s largest kibbutz with a population in the range of 1,500. In addition to growing fruits and vegetables, cultivating fish ponds in which it breeds edible and decorative fish, and maintaining a metal works industry, Ma’agan Michael derives the bulk of its income from Plasson Industries. The company specializes in plastic pipes and fittings used to distribute, transfer, and convey, water, gas, industrial fluids and waste.Plasson, which went public in 1996, and is listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. It is a global company with manufacturing plants in Germany, Italy, the US and India along with sales and marketing offices in the UK, Brazil, Spain and Australia. While Plasson was the main focus of the president’s visit to the kibbutz, he also visited its other sources of revenue. He declared that it was essential for Israel’s population to become aware of the range and quality of locally produced merchandise. Safeguarding Israel’s industry was no less important than national security, he said.“It’s not just a matter of reducing unemployment but of increasing trade,” said Peres.Assuring the growth of Israel’s exports is vital to the national economy, he said.It was not just a casual remark in the spirit of the campaign.Among the many positions that Peres has held in a rich and varied career is that of finance minister.Manufacturers Association of Israel chairman Zvi Oren who accompanied Peres on the visit, spoke in glowing terms of the growth of Israel’s industry.When he was a boy, he said, exports came to around $6 million per year. Today, they stand at $44 billion. Much of this success is attributable to R&D and the numerous patents taken out by Israeli scientists, technologists and other researchers working hand in glove with industry.In appreciation of what Peres had said about the quality of Israeli goods, Oren remarked that many years ago, people bought Made in Israel for lack of choice. Today, with many choices at their disposal, they buy it, because it’s a high quality product.Oren is not content for Israel to rest on its export laurels and said that the aim was to double export figures in the shortest possible time.For this to happen, the government must take greater responsibility and see to it that there are more trained and competent people in the work force, he said, adding that it was imperative that the government invest more in vocational and technological education.