Economy, Foreign Trade
trade deficit, IBRD, International Finance Corporation, UNCTAD, rough diamonds
The cost of Israelís imports has exceeded the value of its exports every year since 1948. This trade deficit, while growing in dollar amount to $12.8 billion in 1996, is decreasing in relative terms. In 1950 exports financed only 14 percent of imports; in 1996 they financed 71 percent. Grants and loans from the United States and other governments, donations from Jewish fund-raising organizations, bank loans, and funds brought in by immigrants have covered annual deficits. Israel owes the bulk of its external debt to the United States. Expanding exports has been a primary goal of the government throughout Israelís history.
Chief imports include rough diamonds, machinery, chemicals, vehicles, crude petroleum, and consumer goods. Primary sources of imports include the United States, Belgium and Luxembourg (which constitute a single trading entity), Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Japan. Main exports include finished diamonds, machinery and parts, chemicals and chemical products, electronic equipment, and agricultural produce (especially citrus fruits). Trading partners for exports include the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Belgium and Luxembourg, and Hong Kong.
Israel is a member of the World Trade Organization and has enjoyed free trade agreements for industrial goods with the European Union (formerly the European Community) since 1975 and the United States since 1985. Israel also participates in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
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