from the December 2009 issue

High-tech drives huge leap in exports

Israel's economy is highly export-oriented, so the dramatic increase in exports in the August-to-October period is good news. The Central Bureau of Statistics reported that Israel's exports during those three months jumped by 46% in annualized terms, following an increase of 32% in the previous three months.

For much of that, one can thank the high-tech sector, which contributes just over half of all Israel's industrial exports. During the three months of August to October, high-tech exports soared by an almost unprecedented rate of 68%, following a 55% increase in the previous three months.

Breakdown of high-tech exports by sub sector shows that the "higher" the technology, the more exports rose.

At the upper edge, we find a huge increase in global demand for Israeli electronic components. Exports of these components shot up by 141% in annualized terms during August to October. Exports of pharmaceuticals came in second, increasing by 92%.

Over at the other end of the spectrum, "traditional technology exports," which comprise 6% of all industrial exports, dropped by 4.2% in annualized terms in August-October 2009, following a 10% drop in May to July.

Imports of goods also surged ahead during the August-to-October period, though the increase paled when compared with exports.

Broadly, imports of goods increased by 12% in annualized terms, after falling by 1% in the previous three months.

But not all sectors are equal. In the diamond sector, for instance, imports of raw stones totaled just $3.6 billion in the first 10 months of 2009, down from $7.9 billion in the same period of 2008. Exports of polished diamonds shrunk to $4.6 billion in January-October 2009, compared with $9 billion in the same months of 2008.

The surge in both exports and imports kept the ports jumping. Port figures for the third quarter of 2009 show a 12% increase in transport of containers for export compared with the second quarter, though in terms of volume, total cargo transport has fallen this year compared with 2008, because fewer cars were imported. Surprisingly, the ports reported a surge in passenger traffic: 192,000 people passed through in the first 10 months of 2009, up 52% from the same period of 2008.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report December 2009

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