Thursday, January 18, 2007

For Palestinians: An Opportunity To Tap Into $17 Billion Annually

From an email I received from the Israeli Consulate in New York:
'Israel-Palestinian trade could hit $7 Billion'

From cell phone technology to packaged foods, Israel could generate $12 billion in annual trade with its Arab neighbors, according to the Jerusalem Post, including the Palestinian Authority and, through it, the Arab Free Trade Area, according to the Palestine Trade Center in Ramallah.

While Israel has worked hard to expand its trade options with the United States, Europe and China, it should not forget that one of its most lucrative partners is right next door, argued the center's trade policy adviser, Saad Khatib.

In spite of the hostilities between the two groups, the second largest country to which Israel exported goods in 2005, excluding diamonds, was the Palestinian territories, Khatib told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. He spoke to the Post following a Jerusalem event hosted by the Peres Center for Peace designed to publicize a report by the Palestine Trade Center on economic relations between Israel and Palestine.

Khatib said that economic relations between Israel and Palestine could be so financially beneficial to both parties that it would be a mistake to cut off economic ties between the two groups. In 2005, overall Israeli exports to the Palestinian Authority, including petroleum and telephone services, were worth $2.5b.

If one considers just the export of goods, excluding diamonds, then the Palestinians in 2005 bought $1.8b. in goods from Israel, said Khatib.

That is the second largest number of Israeli goods sold to another country except for the United States, which imports $7.5b. in Israeli goods, according to Khatib.

That's followed by $1.4 billion in sales of Israeli goods to the United Kingdom and $1.3b. to Germany, he said.

If relations between Israel and the Palestinians were to become "friendly" rather then "hostile," the value of Israeli exports to the Palestinians could grow to $7b. annually within the next five to 10 years, Khatib said.
All this is fine and good for Israel. What the consulate leaves out of their summary of the article is the more important part--just what is in it for the Palestinian Arabs?

The Jerusalem Post article continues:
But that number could be augmented by another $5b. within that same time frame because Israel could export its products duty-free to the Arab Free Trade Area countries with the help of the Palestinians. That would includes duty-free sales of products to Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Tunis, Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Mauritania and Somalia.
Yitzhak Gal, an economic adviser to the Israeli-Jordan Chamber of Commerce, said that Israeli companies were already looking to tap into the Arab Free Trade bloc through their relations with countries such as Jordan and Egypt.

But it would be simpler if these companies could enter the larger Arab market with the help of Palestinian businesses, Gal said. The rules for the Arab Free Trade bloc are not that restrictive, so all that would need to happen is for some part of the production process to occur within the Palestinian territories, and the products could be sold to the larger Arab market, said Gal.

...In addition, Khatib said, if one calculates the benefits of a joint tourism industry, economic ties between Israel and the Palestinians could generate $17b. annually within the next five to 10 years, Khatib said. [emphasis added]
Now if the Palestinian Arabs could just stop killing Jews and their fellow Arabs long enough to notice.

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