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February 10, 1984 - Image 27

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-02-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Jumumenump

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Hearings Open on Free Trade

WASHINGTON (JTA) —
Friends of Israel testified
before the Senate Finance
Committee on Monday as it
began hearings on the pro-
posed Free Trade Area
(FTA) between the U.S. and
Israel, an element of the
joint military and economic
cooperation agreements
reached by the two coun-
tries last fall.
First to appear were
Elmer Winter, chairman of
the Committee for Eco-
nomic Growth of Israel and
former president of the
American Jewish Commit-
tee; and Thomas Dine,
executive director of the
American-Israel Public Af-
fairs Committee. Both
stressed Israel's urgent eco-
nomic needs and the bene-
fits that would accrue to the
U.S. and Israel.
The FTA was agreed on in
principle when Israeli Pre-
mier Yitzhak Shamir met
with President Reagan and
other Administration offi-
cials in Washington last
November. Details are
being worked out at a series
of meetings between
American and Israeli repre-
sentatives. The first of the
meetings was held here last
month and, according to
Doral Cooper of the Office of
the U.S. Trade Representa-
tive, it "pretty much set up
the parameters of the
agreement."
Many details are yet to
be worked out. Another
joint meeting will be held
in Israel next week and
Ambassador William
Brock, the U.S. Trade
Representative, will meet
with Israeli Minister of
Trade Gideon Patt on
Feb. 29. The FTA must be
approved by both houses
of Congress before it can
be implemented.
Winter, in his testimony,
said the proposed FTA
would open new export op-
portunities for American
manufacturers and new re-
search and development op-
portunities for American
companies in Israel. He
stressed that increased ex-
ports of American-made
products will be generated
because of lower Israeli
tariffs and "this will mean
increased U.S. jobs and an
increased share of the mar-
ket in Israel for
American-made products."
He also noted that be-
cause Israel already enjoys
duty-free access to the
European Economic Com-
munity, American corn-
panies with manufacturing
facilitiei in Israel can sell
their products competi-
tively in Europe. Winter
stressed that the FTA will
provide Israel an opportu-
nity to reduce its balance of
payments deficit with the
U.S. and assist Israel to be-
come financially indepen-
dent of the U.S. in the fu-
ture.
"We believe it is in the
best interests of the United
States and Israel that Israel
work to a point where it will
be able to stand on her own
two feet. This will gradually
reduce the funds that the
United States government
commits annually to assist

Israel to meet her economic
needs," Winter said.
He also suggested that
the FTA will be a first
step toward the future
development of a Middle
East Common Market
and "may well provide
the incentive for some
Arab countries and Is-
rael to meet and resolve
their political dif-
ferences."
Dine noted that Israel is
"staggering under the bur-
den of financing its defense
as it tries to maintain a
military balance with an
enormous coalition of ad-
versaries who have almost
as many aircraft and tanks
as NATO." Israel, he said,
must devote one-third of its
resources to defense, corn-
pared to six percent by the
U.S.
An FTA would benefit the
U.S. as well, Dine said. He
observed that the U.S. is Is-
rael's largest trading part-
ner with 23 percent of Is-
raeli exports going to the
U.S. and 25 percent of its
imports coming from the
U.S. Israel imports more
than $1.7 billion in civilian
goods from the U.S. which
creates about 50,000
American jobs, Dine said.
He stressed that "the
threat to American indus-
try would be minimal" if an
FTA is created. "Israel is
unlikely to flood the Ameri-
can market because it is not
a cheap labor enclave." He
added that Israeli agricul-
tural exports would not hurt
American farmers because
the U.S. exports nearly
eight times as much as it
imports from Israel in ag-
ricultural products.
Cooper, at a press con-
ference last week spon-
sored by the AJCommit-
tee, called the U.S.-Israeli
agreement in principle "a
very major decision for
both sides, and especially
for the United States
which has not done some-
thing like this before."
Cooper, who has been the
U.S. negotiator in develop-
ing the proposed FTA with
Israel, said the agreement is
expected to be comprehen-
sive in terms of product
coverage and various non-
tariff barriers. "We are
hopeful that services and
investment can be included
to get the truest, broadest
free trade areas between
two countries," she said.
She, like Winter, referred
to Israel's relationship with
the EEC and noted, "From
an economic point of view,
U.S. exporters are facing an
increasing disadvantage
vis-a-vis EEC exporters,
and this was one very im-

Y

portant incentive for mov-
ing forward with the
agreement."
Cooper added, "We have
been consulting with our
private sector advisers, tel-
ling them what we are doing
and seeking their advice .. .
The reception has been very
good . . . We have a lot of
work to do in terms of
notifying the public and
getting their input, but we
are very excited about the
new trend After
thorough consultations on
the Hill, we hope we can
finalize the agreement as
soon as possible.

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