Israel Trade March 2018

Israel: Trade deficit widens in March; high-tech exports trend higher in Q1

Exports slowed in March, growing a modest 1.6% from a year earlier, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). March’s reading contrasted February’s revised 2.4% contraction from a year earlier (previously reported: +4.5% year-on-year). Exports totaled USD 5.0 billion, coming in above the USD 4.9 billion recorded in the same month last year. March’s improvement was underpinned by exports from the manufacturing, mining and quarrying industries. Moreover, trend data for January–March showed that exports from high-tech industries rose healthily on a year-on-year basis.

Meanwhile, imports accelerated sharply in March, climbing 17.9% from a year earlier. March’s reading came in below February’s massive, revised 34.1% increase (previously reported: +33.8% year-on-year) but still reflected strong imports of investment and consumer goods, as well as raw materials. Imports totaled USD 6.7 billion, considerably above the USD 5.7 billion recorded in the same month last year. Trend data for January–March showed a spike in imports of investment goods, particularly machinery and equipment, as well as a significant increase in imports of consumer goods—all on an annual basis.

All told, the trade deficit widened to USD 1.7 billion in March from USD 0.8 billion a year earlier (February: USD 2.4 billion). Additionally, the 12-month rolling trade deficit widened from USD 17.3 billion in February to USD 18.2 billion in March.

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