Text size

Israeli exports have increased 15,000 times since the nation was founded, from $6 million in 1948 to $90 billion last year, the Israel Export Institute announced yesterday in honor of Israel's 64th anniversary.

Exports per capita increased from $7 the year the country was founded to $11,500 as of last year.

"Over the country's 64 years, exports were its engine for development and economic achievement," said Ramzi Gabbay, who heads the institute. "The goal of making Israel one of the top 15 countries in terms of GDP per capita can be achieved only by continuing to increase exports per capita."

Since 1948, exports have expanded at an annual pace of 16.5% in dollar terms, said the institute, which is part of the Industry and Trade Ministry.

Exports contracted during only five years. The sharpest annual drop - 17% - was in 2009, during the global financial crisis. The second sharpest drop, of 13%, was in 2001, when the high-tech bubble burst.

In 1950, Britain was Israel's top export market, with the $11 million in goods and services exported to that country making up 32% of all exports.

The United States was second, at $8 million, but topped the list by 1970 - when Iran was No. 10, with $22 million in Israeli exports.

Israel's first free-trade agreement was signed with Hungary in 1949. Under the deal, Budapest promised to provide Israel with meat, grains and heavy industrial equipment, while Israel committed to export paint, chemicals, thread, citrus fruit and dentures.

Israel now has free-trade agreements with 39 countries.