Israel's Exports Grew 16,000-fold in 67 Years

Agency warns that Israel’s per-capita export rank is slipping.

Ora Coren
Ora Coren
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A Zim container ship.Credit: Bloomberg
Ora Coren
Ora Coren

Israel has enjoyed stunning success in exports in its 67 years, with goods and services sold abroad rising from $6 million in 1948 to about $97 billion last year, the Israel Export Institute announced Tuesday.

That is an increase of about 16,000-fold, although after adjusting for inflation it comes to a more modest 1,588-fold. Israel exported $11,780 a year per person, up from just $7 in 1948, an increase 1,660 times, or 169 times in real terms.

In 1948, Israel had almost no service exports, a category that encompasses everything from tourism services to software. But by 2014, service exports accounted for $35 billion of all Israeli exports, the agency said.

Despite the impressive growth, institute chairman Ramzi Gabai warned that Israel is still far behind internationally.

“On Israel’s 67th Independence Day we must ask ourselves how to ensure growth for the next 67 years. I have no doubt that the answer is exports, just as they were in the past 67 years. Exports are Israel’s main growth engine, so we must ensure we have the tools to realize the potential Israeli society has for quality and innovation.”

Last year, Israel ranked sixth in the world for trade growth overall and second among developed economies for trade growth since 1948. Oil exporters like the United Arab Emirates and Qatar were in the top five, but so were South Korea (growth of 30,000-fold) and Taiwan (18,000-fold).

However, Israel was ahead of China and Japan, which were seventh and eighth places, with growth of 4,500- and 2,700-fold, respectively, according to a study by the Export Institute.

But in 2014 Israel was 31st in exports per capita, ahead of Italy and Spain but behind Taiwan, South Korea, France and Hungary, among others.

Israel’s per capita ranking moved up two places from 2013, but has been declining in recent years. In 2010, Israel was in 29th place, in 2009 26th and in 2000 19th.

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