For First Time, Israel Releases Details of How Its $126 Billion in Exports and Imports Are Transported

Analysis produced in an effort to shape government transportation policy, assess impact of trade on the environment and provide information in accordance with a UN trade statistics program.

Moti Bassok
Moti Bassok
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Shipping containers in Ashdod Port.
Shipping containers in Ashdod Port.Credit: Ilan Assayag
Moti Bassok
Moti Bassok

Figures released by the Central Bureau of Statistics Monday show that the country’s exports are largely sent abroad by air but imports come into Israel by sea for the most part. This was the first time the statistics agency has released such data on how goods coming into the country or leaving it are transported.

Israel imported at total of $62.1 billion worth of goods in 2015 and exported $64.1 billion, the statistics agency said in releasing its analysis, which was produced in part in an effort to shape government transportation policy, assess the impact of trade on the environment and provide information in accordance with the United Nations’ International Merchandise Trade Statistics program.

Just over 62% of the value of the goods imported into the country in 2015 were sent by ship while by value, just under 30% of the goods exported from Israel were transported by ship, the statistics bureau said. Fully 69% of the value of Israel’s exports were sent by air last year, but only 37% of imported goods, by value, came into the country by air.

The value of goods imported and exported by air is somewhat skewed by the fact that Israel is a major diamond polishing and trading center, and diamonds coming in and out of the country are transported by air. In addition to diamonds and other precision stones, the primary categories of imports transported to Israel by air include pearls and other jewelry, and electrical products. The categories of exports are similar.

Fully 22.3% of all imports by air were from the United States, followed by Belgium – also a diamond center – at 8.2%, China at 7.8% and Germany at 6.3%. Of Israeli exports by air, 31.4% were shipped to the U.S., 11.7% to Hong Kong, 5.5% to elsewhere in China and 7.3% to the United Kingdom.

With regard to goods brought to Israel by sea, the major categories include fuel and oils, motor vehicles and vehicle parts. Israel’s exports sent by sea include chemical products, machinery and mechanical instruments, and computer equipment. Chinese merchandise represented 16.1% of all goods imported into Israel by sea, followed by Turkish goods at 7.2%, goods from the U.S. at 7.1% and products from Germany at 6.6%. When it comes to Israeli exports shipped by sea, 21.5% were destined to the U.S., 8.2% to Turkey, 6.9% to the Netherlands and 4.3% to China.

In 2015, $38.7 billion of merchandise was imported into Israel by sea, representing 62.3% of all the country’s imports last year. Another $22.9 billion in goods, 37% of the total, were brought into Israel by air. The remaining 0.7% balance represents shipments by land, by parcel post and the like.

Imports by air would have been substantially less were it not for Israel’s role in the diamond industry. About $6.9 billion worth of diamonds, representing 11.1% of the goods shipped by air, were brought into the country last year. On the export side, $44.4 billion in goods were exported by air last year and $18.9 billion by sea. Diamond exports represented a hefty 27.5% of the value of all exports by air last year.

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