Sunday, May 12, 2013

Economy of West Bank and Gaza

CurrencyNew Israeli Shekel (NIS) alongside:
- American Dollar (USD)
- Jordanian Dinar (JOD)
Fiscal yearCalendar Year
GDP$5.7 billion (2010 est.)
GDP growth8% (2009 est.)
GDP per capita
$1924 (West Bank)
$876 (Gaza) [3]
GDP by sectoragriculture (5%), industry (14%), services (81%) (2008 est.)
Inflation (CPI)9.9% (2009 est.)
below poverty line
21.9% (2009 est.) [4]
Labour force872,000 (2006)
Labour force
by occupation
Agriculture (12%), Industry (23%), Services (65%) (2008 est.)
Unemployment16.5% (2010 est.)
Main industriesCement, Quarrying, Textiles, Soap, Olive-Wood Carvings, Mother-of-PearlSouvenirs, Food Processing
Ease of Doing Business Rank135th[5]
Exports$529 million f.o.b. (2008)
Export goodsOlives, Fruit, Vegetables, Limestone,Citrus, Flowers, Textiles
Imports$3.772 billion c.i.f. (2008)
Import goodsFood, Consumer Goods, Construction Materials
Public finances
Revenues$1.87 billion (2010 est.)
Expenses$3.1 billion (2008 est.
GDP per capita in the Palestinian territories rose by 7% per year from 1968-1980 but slowed during the 1980s. Between 1970 and 1991 life expectancy rose from 56 to 66 years, infant mortality per 1,000 fell from 95 to 42, the percentage of households with electricity rose from 30% to 85%, the percentage of households with safe water rose from 15% to 90%, the percentage of households with a refrigerator rose from 11% to 85%, and the percentage of households with a washing machine rose from 23% in 1980 to 61% in 1991.
Economic conditions in the West Bank and Gaza, where economic activity was governed by the Paris Economic Protocol of April 1994 between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, deteriorated in the early 1990s. Real per capita GDP for the West Bank and Gaza Strip (WBGS) declined 36.1% between 1992 and 1996 owing to the combined effect of falling aggregate incomes and robust population growth. The downturn in economic activity was due to extensive corruption in the newly governing Palestinian Authority, and to Israeli closure policies in response to security incidents in Israel, which disrupted previously established labor and commodity market relationships.
The most serious effect of this downturn was the emergence of chronic unemployment. Average unemployment rates in the 1980s were generally under 5%; by the mid-1990s this level had risen to over 20%. After 1997, Israel's use of comprehensive closures decreased and new policies were implemented. In October 1999, Israel permitted the opening of a safe passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in accordance with the 1995 Interim Agreement. These changes in the conduct of economic activity fueled a moderate economic recovery in 1998-99.
Map of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, 2007
In 2006, unemployment rose from 23% in 2005 to over 50%. As a result of the Israeli blockade, 85 percent of factories were shut or operating at less than 20 percent capacity. It is estimated that Israeli businesses lost $2 million a day from the closing while Gaza was losing approximately $1 million a day. The World Bank estimates the nominal GDP of the territories at 4,007,000 US$ and of Israel at 161,822,000 US$. Per capita these numbers are respectively 1,036 US$ and 22,563 US$ per year.
For 30 years, Israel permitted thousands of Palestinians to enter the country each day to work in construction, agriculture and other blue-collar jobs. Until the mid-1990s, up to 150,000 people—about a fifth of the Palestinian labor force—entered Israel each day. After Palestinians unleashed a wave of suicide bombings, the idea of separation from the Palestinians took root in Israel. Israel found itself starved for labor, and gradually replaced most of the Palestinians with migrants from Thailand, Romania and elsewhere.
In 2005, the PNA Ministry of Finance cited the Israeli West Bank barrier, whose construction began in the second half of 2002, as one reason for the depressed Palestinian economic activity.] Real GDP growth in the West Bank declined substantially in 2000, 2001, and 2002, and increased modestly in 2003 and 2004. The World Bank attributed the modest economic growth since 2003 to "diminished levels of violence, fewer curfews, and more predictable (albeit still intense) closures, as well as adaptation by Palestinian business to the contours of a constrained West Bank economy". Under a "disengagement scenario" the Bank predicted a real growth rate of -0.2% in 2006 and -0.6% in 2007.
In the wake of Israel's unilateral disengagement from Gaza, there were shortages of bread and basic supplies due to closure of the al Mentar/Karni border-crossing into Israel. Israel's offer to open other crossings was turned down by the Hamas-run Palestinian authority.
Following the January 2006 legislative elections, won by Hamas, the Quartet (apart from Russia) cut all funds to the Palestinian Authority led by prime minister Ismail Haniyah (Hamas). The Palestinian Authority had a monthly cash deficit of $60 million-$70 million after it received $50 million-$55 million a month from Israel in taxes and customs duties collected by Israeli officials at the borders. After the elections, the Palestinian stock market fell about 20 percent, and the Palestinian Authority exhausted its borrowing capacity with local banks. Israel ceased transferring $55 million in tax receipts to the Palestinian Authority. These funds accounted for a third of the PA's budget and paid the wages of 160,000 Palestinian civil servants (among them 60 000 security and police officers). The United States and the European Union halted direct aid to the PA, while the US imposed a financial blockade on PA's banks, impeding some of the Arab League's funds (e.g. Saudi Arabia and Qatar) from being transferred. In May 2006, hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in Gaza and the West Bank demanding payment of their wages. Tension between Hamas and Fatah rose as a result of this "economic squeeze" on the PA.
In 2013, commercial trade between Israel and the Palestinian territories were valued at US$ 20 billion annually.