The Central Bureau of Statistics reports that in 1999 Israel’s total imports of goods and services was $30.6 billion (excluding the Palestinian Authority), total exports were $23.5 billion (excluding the Palestinian Authority), for a trade deficit of $7.15 billion. These figures are 13% ($3.6 billion), 10.7% ($2.3 billion) and 23% ($1.3 billion) higher than in 1998 respectively. The increased trade deficits in part reflects the purchase of $650 million worth of civilian aircraft and an 18% average rise in fuel prices over the year. Excluding diamonds, fuel, aircraft and shipping, reduces the rise in the trade deficit to an increase of only $100 million from a year earlier.
Trade with the Palestinian Authority remained largely unchanged in 1999 compared to 1998, amounted to $1.58 billion in exports and $285 million in imports. Israel’s trade deficit, when including trade with the Palestinian Authority was $5.9 billion.
Most exports — 72% — consisted of manufactured goods and software, 24% were diamonds and 4% agricultural products. Exports of manufactured goods and software rose 6% in 1999, a relatively low rise compared to 1998 (8%) and 1997 (10%). Exports of high_ tech products were $9.2 billion (54% of manufactured exports, excluding diamonds, compared to 53% in 1998 and 50% in 1997. Traditional manufactured exports (textiles, food products, wood products, paper and jewelry) continued their relative decline in 199 to 13.8% from 14.4% in 1989 and 15.6% in 1997, although still rising in absolute terms by 1.6% and amounting to $5.5 billion.
Total agricultural exports in 1999 were $787 million, a 2.7% decline over 1998.
Polished and raw diamond exports rose by 30%, to $5.7 billion, after declining in 1998 due to the financial crisis in Asia that year.
Forty-two percent of imports consisted of raw materials, 18% machinery, equipment, vehicles for investment, 13% consumer goods, 18% diamonds, fuels 7% and ships and aircraft 2%. Imports (excluding ships, aircraft, diamonds and fuel) rose 4.9% in 1999 after declining in 1998 and 1997. 80% of the increase ($840 million) was for investment goods, 13% for raw materials and the remainder was consumer goods.
Imports of investment goods (excluding aircraft and ships) rose 18% in 1999, of raw materials (excluding diamonds and fuel) by 1%, of consumer goods by 2% and fuel by 17%.
In 1999, total U.S.-Israel trade reached a new high of nearly $17.6 billion, an increase of 12% over the 1998 total. Imports from Israel grew by 14% to nearly $9.9 billion while U.S. exports grew by 10% to $7.7 billion. The U.S. trade deficit with Israel is for 1999 exceeded $2.1 billion. Israel is now the United States' 20th leading trade partner, moving up three places since last year. Total trade between the two nations has increased 186% since the U.S.-Israel Free Trade Agreement was signed in 1985.
Sources: Israel Central Bureau of Statistics