'85 FORD ESCORT
Israeli shipping lines face
dismal economic future
Tel Aviv (JTA) — The Zim
Lines, Israel's worldwide ship-
ping company owned jointly by
the government and the finan-
cially troubled Eisenberg indus-
trial conglomerate, has been
added to the list of major Israeli
enterprises with an uncertain fu-
Although Zim, which owns or
charters 100 ocean-going vessels
and has some 2,000 employees
ashore and afloat is said to be bas-
ically sound, because of the pro-
longed worldwide shipping
slump, Zim finds it difficult to
raise working capital.
But economists stress that the
company's troubles are not im-
mediate. While its long term
debts amount to about $510 mil-
lion, its short term obligations
total only about $40 million,
lower than last year, and a sum
that can be managed with a year
of good earnings.
Far more desperate is the condi-
tion of the government-owned
Haifa Shipyards whose orders
have dwindled to a point where it
may have to lay-offhalf of its work
force of more than 600.
The yards have already agreed
to reduce its payroll by arranging
early retirement for veteran em-
ployees and some dismissals. The
Haifa Labor Council and the
shipyard workers committee are
pressing the government to place
new orders for naval vessels.
The shipyards were hard hit re-
cently when the Defense Ministry
canceled orders for two large land-
ing craft for the navy. This fol-
lowed cancellations by commer-
cial shipowners and the order
books are down to two tugboats for
the Israel ports authority.
Spokesmen for the shipyard
said that' if new orders sufficient
to keep it busy for the next 2-3
years are not forthcoming, there
will have to belarge scale dismis-
sals. The yards will becreduced to
repair and maintenance work
that will require no more than 350
The problems of the Zim Lines,
on the other hand, are linked to
the downfall of the giant Ata tex-
tile combine, a much larger
enterprise in terms of employees,
which is part of the Eisenberg
group. Ata, the largest single em-
ployer in the Haifa area, has been,
for several months, in the hands of
a government receiver who is
seeking to find a suitable buyer.
If none materializes within the
month, Ata will be declared bank-
rupt. It survives only because a
Haifa district court which had or-
dered the mills shut down Dec. 31,
granted a 30-day reprieve at the
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increase in 1984
Jerusalem (JTA) — Encourag-
ing figures on Israel's export per-
formance in 1984 were released
last week. They show an overall
rise of 13% in exports compared
with 1983. In cash terms, Israel
exported close to $5.50 billion
worth in 1984.
FULL FACTORY EQUIPMENT
its fleet of container ships, one of
the largest in the world, main-
tains a wide range of services be-
tween non-Israeli ports.
Concern for the future of Ata,
the shipyards and the Zim lines is
growing in Haifa. It was an-
nounced last week that unem-
ployment has risen by 15 percent
in the port city. There are now,
6,600 jobless workers registered
at the labor exchange searching
for new jobs.
Both Ata and Zim are heavily in
debt to local banks and should
either or both go under, the banks
would suffer a major blow as
would Israel's already staggering
economy. Observers pointed out
that Zim, though not itself in
crisis, could be pulled under by
the collapse of Ata.
The shipping company is a
major earner of hard currency for
Israel. In addition to carrying the
bulk of freight to and from Israel,
Friday, January 18, 1985
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
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