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Manufacturing heads expect the industry to continue to grow next year but at a slower pace. The Manufactures Association president Shraga Brosh said yesterday that industry added 9,000 jobs in 2006 but would only add 6,800 next year to reach a total of 354,000 by the end of 2007.

The estimate is based on expectations that a global slowdown will reduce local growth from 10 percent this year 6 percent next year. Other factors include a stronger shekel and sharpening global competition. High-tech, which grew 20 percent this year, accounted for 80 percent of all growth. Traditional industries grew 2.5 percent. Industrial sales to the local market in 2007 will grow no more than 6 percent to $44 billion after increasing 8 percent this year to $41 billion. Industrial exports, which grew 12 percent this year to $29 billion, are expected to increase another 7 percent in 2007 to $32 billion.

Brosh called on the government to take decisive action to strengthen traditional industries so that growth will cover all branches.