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The Finance Ministry launched a new assistance program aimed at exporters yesterday. The program is based on the package deal reached last summer between employers, labor organizations and the government, which committed the government to funding up to NIS 1 billion in bank guarantee risk to exporters. The program will remain in effect until the end of 2010.

Tender guarantees, performance guarantees and prepayment guarantees will be made available to exporters through commercial banks. These guarantees will not be subject to a detailed approval process by the Finance Ministry, as the banks themselves will take on part of the state's risk. The ministry says this will make the procedure more efficient and reduce the bureaucratic snarl typically involved in the approval process.

This support of the exporting industry, one of the principal economic growth engines, will enable the economy to take advantage of its relative edge while the rest of the world struggles to emerge from the economic crisis, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said.