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April 20, 1990 - Image 92

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-04-20

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

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aifa — It began as an
innocent public ser-
vice broadcast on
Israel television, but it
erupted into a battle royal
between two giants — the
Israel Manufacturers'
Association and the organiza-
tion of Israel Chambers of
Commerce.
The subject, one well known
in other countries: imports
versus local products.
The offending broadcast, in-
tended to push consumption
of domestic goods, contained
this approach to consumers:
"Each time you reach out to
choose something imported,
another family in Israel stret-
ches out its hand for help."
The battle between the two
interests has been going on
for a long time. The importers
insist that they are rendering
a major service to the coun-
try's economy, and they
launch an attack against
local industry. They produce
tables of comparative prices,
allegedly showing that Israel-
made products sell here at
home for prices far higher
than comparable products in
many countries overseas.
The local manufacturers
have an answer for high
prices. First of all, they say,
compare quality. They say
local merchandise is superior
to the products often im-
ported from abroad. Further-
more, there are costs in Israel
over which local producers
have no control. Government
controls make capital expen-
sive and set high interest
rates. Labor is more costly
because of prolonged absences
for military reserve duty.
The importers press their
case. Prices are high because
Israeli industry is inefficient.
The consumer shouldn't pay
for poor management. The
answer is to open the gates
wide to competitive imports.
That will quickly compel
local industry to improve its
quality, as well as efficiency of
production, and the result
will be lower prices — all to
the advantage of the
consumers.

Israel may be having dif-
ficulty exporting because its
prices are too high. Exposure
to competition will not only
benefit the local consumer,
but will also open up new
markets to export, the
Chambers of Commerce
maintain. They cite
economists, as well as the

Bank of Israel, who urge that
imports should be encourag-
ed as the best way to compel
manufacturers in Israel to ra-
tionalize their production.
The national economy is
not based only on what is
cheaper for the consumer, the
local employers maintain.
There are national and social
factors as well, affecting
employment in border
villages and development
towns. These are, in turn,
related to national defense. If
mass cheap imports result in
closing down domestic plants,
with consequent large-scale
unemployment, the end
result could be a drying up of
the local market for the im-
ports as well.
There are some industries
which combine import and
domestic production with the
same goods. For example,
Israeli businessmen import
tuna in bulk, cut it, insert it
in tin cans here, and sell it as
if a local product. The dif-
ferences of opinion have led to
commercial clashes. Thus,
when the Elite chocolate pro-
ducers decided to diversify by
importing cigarettes, they fac-
ed a threat from Dubek,
which holds the monopoly on
local cigarette manufacture,
to import chocolates. Both
companies backed away.
The arguments will long
continue. It is known that
many Israel products, in the
fields of electronics and high
technology, for example, com-
pete successfully in interna-
tional markets. And almost
every Israeli tourist going
abroad comes back with a
story of some Israel-made pro-
duct, clothing or food or even
furniture, that he bought in
London or New York at a
price less than what the same
item costs here at home. El

"'"'"I IN BRIEF I

THE LUBAVITCH FOUN-
DATION of Farmington Hills
has retained the interna-
tional architectural firm,
Minoru Yamasaki and
Associates, of Troy, to design
its synagogue/religious center
project proposed for West
Bloomfield Township.

MICHAEL LEVINE has
joined the law firm of Fraser
Trebilcock Davis and Foster,
P.C.

HONEY FRIEDMAN has
been named executive direc-
tor for the Variety Club, the
children's charity.

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