Chemicals, Rubber, and Plastics
The chemical industry began in the early 1920s, when a small plant was started to extract potash and bromine from the Dead Sea. In the past, the chemical industry concentrated on the sale of raw materials, such as potash and phosphates, and their processed derivatives. In the early 1980s, the industry undertook a comprehensive research and development program, which has substantially transformed it. Helping Israel to become one of the world's largest chemical-producing nations was the industry's development of new treatment processes for ceramics, glass, textiles, plastics, and wood. In 1986 the chemicals, rubber, and plastics industries together provided 15.6 percent of total industrial sales and engaged 11 percent of the industrial labor force.
In the 1980s, Israel Chemicals Limited (ICL)--a governmentowned corporation--was the largest chemical complex and also dominated Israel's mineral resources industry. Its subsidiaries included the Dead Sea Works, Dead Sea Bromine, and Negev Phosphates. ICL also was parent to smaller research, desalination, telecommunications, shipping, and trucking firms. In addition, ICL owned Amsterdam Fertilizers in the Netherlands and Broomchemie, Guilin Chemie, and Stadiek Dunger in the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany).
In the plastics field, Kibbutz Industries Association--a member of the Histadrut--accounted for more than 60 percent of Israel's plastics output and more than 75 percent of plastics exports. Virtually all the successful plastics establishments were kibbutz owned.
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