Arad Textiles warns that its factories, which produce IDF uniforms, may have to shut down and move operations out of the country, perhaps to Jordan.
The reasons include the implementation of a government proposal to remove tariffs on products from the Far East, a move that would open up competition to cheap exports from China and Pakistan, according to company CEO Guy Schwartz.
The textile firm, which also produces millions of towels a month and supplies hotels around the world, employs 400 people in its facility in Arad, between Be’er Sheva and the Dead Sea, and another 150 in the central Negev and the Galilee.
The current 12 percent tariff on certain countries outside of a free-trade agreement with Israel protects Israeli textile companies from foreign imports.
Cheap exports previously have forced the closure of textile plants of other companies, particularly in the under-developed western Negev and in Kiryat Gat, north of Be'er Sheva.
Schwartz complains that the company has no trouble exporting its products but faces the “absurdity” of Israel’s allowing cheap and inferior imports.
IDF uniforms are made in the Mitzpeh Ramon plant in the central Negev. Schwartz said that if the tariffs are removed and the factory is shut down, Arad Textiles would be faced with having to open plants in Jordan or Ethiopia.
The company began in the United States in the early 1940s but opened a plant in Israel after the owner’s grandson, Gary Heiman, moved to Israel to serve as a volunteer during the Yom Kippur War.
It opened its first plant in Arad in 1976.