American imports of Israeli products increased by nearly 27 percent last year from $769.4 million to $976.8 million, according to figures released yesterday by the Israel Trade Center.
Diamonds were the leading import, but manufactured goods also rose significantly, the trade center said. Strong import growth was reported in basic metals used in construction and aircraft industries, which increased 94.8 percent; machinery for agricultural or industrial uses, which rose 93.2 percent; mining products and fertilizers, up 68.5 percent; and other chemicals, which increased 39 percent.
"Imports of industrial goods have more than doubled in three years from $260 million in 1977 to $520 million in 1980," said Shmuel Ben-Tovim, Israeli trade commissioner to the United States. The rise in imports was caused by "increasing investment in industrial research and development and a better understanding of the American market," Ben-Tovim said.
According to the U.S. Commerce Department, Israel is near the bottom of the United States' top 25 trading partners.
Israel's exports of electric and electronic equipment rose 32.6 percent. Citrus products, flowers and other agricultural products, however, declined by 32 percent from $8.4 million to $5.7 million. Ready-to-wear apparel also declined from $18.5 million in 1979 to $14.9 million last year, according to the trade center.
Imports of books and printing services from Israel rose from $5.6 million to $9.8 million.
Israel's exports of consumer products to other markets, particularly the European Economic Community, rose significantly although the United States is considered Israel's most important trading partner, Ben-Tovim said.
Israeli exporters are "learning to meet American requirements for goods of high durability and fair price," Ben-Tovim said. "This year our goal is to top the $1 billion mark, and we expect to meet it."