Israel’s Economy

Key Facts

  • Israel is one of the most technologically advanced market economies in the world, with more companies listed on the NASDAQ than any countries but the United States and China.
  • Israel’s prosperity and growth has been heralded by its recent transition from an emerging market to the status of developed nation according to the OECD.3
  • Israel weathered the 2008 financial crisis well and its economic growth rate is well above the current OECD average

Israel is at the helm of world economic recovery and growth. The economy relies heavily upon the high-tech sector and its exports. Other leading industries are diamonds, agriculture, and energy. Natural gas is becoming an increasingly important source of revenue. Offshore natural gas production began in 2013. Israeli resevoirs are some of the biggest to be discovered in the last decade and are already contributing significantly to overall economic growth.

After contracting slightly in 2001 and 2002 as a result of the Palestinian conflict and troubles in the high-tech sector, Israel’s GDP grew about 5% per year from 2004-2007. The global financial crisis of 2008-2009 spurred a brief recession in Israel, but the country’s economy, which entered the crisis with solid fundamentals following years of prudent fiscal policy, a series of liberalizing reforms, and a resilient banking sector, was quick to regain momentum.

GDP growth of 4% in 2008 slipped to 0.2% in 2009 but reached 3.4% in 2010 as exports rebounded. This upward trend in exports continues, alongside growing foreign direct investment in the Israeli economy. Inflation remains low and declining unemployment is predicted to continue in 2013.4

In May of 2010, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) unanimously voted to admit Israel as a member country, in recognition of its strong economic underpinnings. Israel’s combination of a highly educated workforce and an environment of entrepreneurship promises continued innovation and growth.

Economic Statistics 2011

  • GDP per capita: (USD) $31,240
  • 4.7% GDP growth; 3.9% growth projected for 2013 (compared to average OECD projections of 1.2%)
  • GDP by sector: agriculture (2.7%), industry (31.7%), services (65.6%) (2008 est.)
  • Key industries include high-tech projects (including medical, biomedical, green energy, aviation, communications, computer-aided design and manufacture, fibre optics), wood and paper products, potash and phosphates, food, beverages, and tobacco, caustic soda, cement, construction, metal products, chemical products, plastics, diamond cutting, textiles, and footwear.

Trade Statistics (2011)

  • Export to Israel ($ Millions): 67
  • Imports from Israel: 74
  • Total trade: 141
  • Total surplus: -7
  • Principal export destinations:
    • USA: 25%
    • Hong Kong: 6%
    • Belgium: 5%
    • Principal import destinations
      • USA: 13%
      • Germany: 6%
      • China: 8%
  • Export commodities:  machinery and equipment, software, cut diamonds, agricultural products, chemicals, pharmaceutics, textiles and apparel.
  • Import commodities include raw materials, military equipment, investment goods, rough diamonds, fuels, grain, and various consumer goods.

Further Reading

Additional information:

  • According to the 2011-2012 Global Competitiveness Index, Israel ranked first for quality of scientific research institutions; second for state of cluster development; fourth for strength of investor protection; and fourth for utility patents per million people, out of 142 countries.
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