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Israel: Economy#

Israel has a technologically advanced free market economy. Cut diamonds, high-technology equipment, and pharmaceuticals are among its leading exports. Its major imports include crude oil, grains, raw materials, and military equipment. Israel usually posts sizable trade deficits, which are covered by tourism and other service exports, as well as significant foreign investment inflows.

Between 2004 and 2013, growth averaged nearly 5% per year, led by exports. The global financial crisis of 2008-09 spurred a brief recession in Israel, but the country entered the crisis with solid fundamentals, following years of prudent fiscal policy and a resilient banking sector. Israel's economy also weathered the 2011 Arab Spring because strong trade ties outside the Middle East have insulated the economy from spillover effects.

Slowing domestic and international demand and decreased investment resulting from Israel’s uncertain security situation reduced GDP growth to an average of roughly 2.6% per year during 2014-15. Natural gas fields discovered off Israel's coast since 2009 have brightened Israel's energy security outlook. The Tamar and Leviathan fields were some of the world's largest offshore natural gas finds in the last decade. Political and regulatory issues have delayed the development of the massive Leviathan field, but production from Tamar provided a 0.8% boost to Israel's GDP in 2013 and a 0.3% boost in 2014. One of the most carbon intense OECD countries, Israel generates about 57% of its power from coal and only 2.6% from renewable sources.

Income inequality and high housing and commodity prices continue to be a concern for many Israelis. Israel's income inequality and poverty rates are among the highest of OECD countries, and there is a broad perception among the public that a small number of "tycoons" have a cartel-like grip over the major parts of the economy. Government officials have called for reforms to boost the housing supply and to increase competition in the banking sector to address these public grievances. Despite calls for reforms, the restricted housing supply continues to impact the well-being of younger Israelis seeking to purchase homes. Tariffs and non-tariff barriers, coupled with guaranteed prices and customs tariffs for farmers have kept food prices high through 2015.

In the long term, Israel faces structural issues, including low labor participation rates for its fastest growing social segments - the ultraorthodox and Arab-Israeli communities. Also, Israel's progressive, globally competitive, knowledge-based technology sector employs only about 8% of the workforce, with the rest mostly employed in manufacturing and services - sectors which face downward wage pressures from global competition. Expenditures on educational institutions remain low compared to most other OECD countries with similar GDP per capita.

Economic Facts#

GDP (purchasing power parity)$297 billion (2016 est.)
$289 billion (2015 est.)
$281.9 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$311.7 billion (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate2.8% (2016 est.)
2.5% (2015 est.)
3.2% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$34,800 (2016 est.)
$34,500 (2015 est.)
$34,300 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving22.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
24.6% of GDP (2015 est.)
24.2% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 55.6%
government consumption: 22.2%
investment in fixed capital: 19.1%
investment in inventories: 1%
exports of goods and services: 29.1%
imports of goods and services: -27% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of originagriculture: 2.1%
industry: 27.3%
services: 69% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productscitrus, vegetables, cotton; beef, poultry, dairy products
Industrieshigh-technology products (including aviation, communications, computer-aided design and manufactures, medical electronics, fiber optics), wood and paper products, potash and phosphates, food, beverages, and tobacco, caustic soda, cement, construction, met
Industrial production growth rate2.6% (2016 est.)
Labor force3.927 million (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 1.1%
industry: 17.3%
services: 81.6% (2015 est.)
Unemployment rate5% (2016 est.)
5.3% (2015 est.)
Population below poverty line22%
note: Israel's poverty line is $7.30 per person per day (2014 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 1.7%
highest 10%: 31.3% (2010)
Distribution of family income - Gini index42.8 (2013)
39.2 (2008)
Budgetrevenues: $80.75 billion
expenditures: $88.4 billion (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues25.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-2.5% of GDP (2016 est.)
Public debt63.2% of GDP (2016 est.)
63.3% of GDP (2015 est.)
Fiscal yearcalendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices)-0.5% (2016 est.)
-0.6% (2015 est.)
Central bank discount rate0.1% (15 December 2015)
0.25% (31 December 2014)
Commercial bank prime lending rate3.3% (31 December 2016 est.)
3.46% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$73.05 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$63.41 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$246 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$155.6 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$233.6 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$211.6 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$243.9 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$200.5 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$203.3 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
Current account balance$9.541 billion (2016 est.)
$13.89 billion (2015 est.)
Exports$51.61 billion (2016 est.)
$56.29 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiesmachinery and equipment, software, cut diamonds, agricultural products, chemicals, textiles and apparel
Exports - partnersUS 27.5%, Hong Kong 8%, UK 6.1%, China 4.9% (2015)
Imports$57.9 billion (2016 est.)
$59.49 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesraw materials, military equipment, investment goods, rough diamonds, fuels, grain, consumer goods
Imports - partnersUS 13%, China 9.3%, Switzerland 7.1%, Germany 6.1%, Belgium 5.3%, Italy 4% (2015)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$97.22 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$90.58 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Debt - external$91.08 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$89.36 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$113.2 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$104.1 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$95.74 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$89.39 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Exchange ratesnew Israeli shekels (ILS) per US dollar -
3.871 (2016 est.)
3.8869 (2015 est.)
3.8869 (2014 est.)
3.5779 (2013 est.)
3.86 (2012 est.)