Since its establishment in 1921, the Manufacturers’ Association of Israel (MAI) is recognized as a central force in the Israeli economy as a whole, and in the industrial sector in particular. Being aware of its obligation to promote national goals such as economic independence and security, MAI constitutes a powerful force in all decision-making at the macro-economic level, including subjects such as labor and foreign trade – both at the level of proposed parliamentary legislation, as well as the execution of laws. Due to its central position among the three main players that mold the Israeli economy - Government, MAI, Histadrut (Trade Union) – MAI makes every effort to maintain a balance between its responsibility towards a sound economy and society, and its obligation to represent the interests of its members, to promote their standing and to strengthen industry’s competitiveness in local and global markets. The Textile and Fashion Industries Association, representing around 140 companies, is the one of the branches of MAI, dedicated to the service of textile and clothing industry of Israel. This textile arm of MAI comprises of secondary sections in various fields, including: dyeing, military/security textiles, domestic textiles, swimwear, underwear, apparel and raw materials. Mr Zvika Lieberman, born in 1949 in Tel Aviv -Israel, is the MD of Textile and Fashion Industries Association at MAI. Mr Lieberman started his career in the fashion and textile sector in 1972, and for 10 years he managed clothing and apparel buying office in Israel. There after for a decade, he was the Marketing Manager of Lodzia- a manufacturing firm that concentrated in development, production and marketing of apparel items. After that for 3 years, he was the Marketing Manager at Argaman dyeing and Finishing. Next consecutive 3 years he managed buying office of Timberland in Israel, mainly in the garment and apparel field. Since past 10 years, Mr Lieberman is the MD of Textile and Fashion Industries Association at MAI. In a talk with Face2Face team, Mr Zvika Lieberman speaks on existing scenario in textile and clothing industry of Israel, and the activities of his association in the benefit of these industries.
MAI is the sole representative body of all industrial sectors in Israel: private, public, kibbutz and government industries. Can we have gist on how it works for textile and clothing industries?
The Textile and Fashion Industries Association numbers around 140 companies, employing thousands of workers.
The Association comprises secondary sections in various fields, including: dyeing, military/security textiles, domestic textiles, swimwear, underwear, apparel and raw materials.
The Directorate of the Association determines its overall policy and methods of dealing with macro-branch issues, as well as handling ongoing problems relating to the branch as a whole and to individual plants, vis-a-vis the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Labor, the Ministry of Finance, Customs Authorities, Ministry of Defense, the Police Force and other relevant bodies.
Representatives from the Association’s management meet with captains of the economy, with the media and others who are likely to influence and to assist in dealings with problems facing the sector.
Please also apprise us more about the difficulties of Israel's present textile industry?
Israel's textile industry is currently facing its most difficult period in its history. Long standing textile plants are closing down, experienced and qualified employees from the industry are finding themselves without work, and, due to the fact that most of the products produced by the domestic factories are earmarked for export, the low dollar/shekel exchange rate is exacerbating the decline of the financial stability of industry.
Despite this, we believe this is the time to strengthen Israel traditional industry and to strive to realize its inherent relative advantages which are largely based on its creative, experienced, skilled innovative and diligent human resources. We are strong advocate of the belief that unwavering determination as well as responsible and wise economic policies is the key to success.
March 2008: EU-Israel Business Dialogue was organized with the aim to augur European investments in Israel. Do you find it had worked on its aim auguring investments in your textile and clothing sector?
Since most FDI's in Israel comes from the US, and only a small amount comes from the EU, and therefore the textile sector is less affected from the initiation of the business dialog.
Announcements on Israel's Joint Declaration on Trade and Economic Cooperation with four African states are also covered by our vibrant News team last year. How has this agreement benefited textile & clothing trade so far?
Israeli export to Jordan was up 10% compared to the same period last year. Total value of goods exported was US$110 million. Most of the exports are raw materials shipped to the QIZ production facilities in Jordan.
Egyptian QIZs are a tremendous success, as confirmed by the surge in US apparel imports from this country and the sharp increase in Israeli exports of materials required in rules of origin, our Special Envoy to Cairo reports. Turkish groups are now planning to invest in Egypt in order to take full advantage of duty-free access on US market and very low labor costs.
Israel has qualified industrial zone (QIZ) treaties with both countries, under which jointly manufactured products are exported duty-free to the US. The QIZ is a tool to promote peace and stimulate the Jordanian & Egyptian economies.
The Qualified Industrial Zone is an area that has been specified as such by the US Government, and designated by local authorities as an enclave where merchandise may enter the US Market without payment of duty or excise taxes, and without the requirement of any reciprocal benefit.
Under the QIZ agreement, Jordanian companies can export to the US duty- free provided that 35% of the product shipped to the USA is jointly Jordanian and Israeli, and that the Israeli component constitutes at least 8% of the exported value.
The QIZ represents an unprecedented opportunity to gain duty-free and quota free access to the US Market, the world’s largest and most affluent consumer market.
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.