Israel: Trade deficit widens to over three-year high in February
March 13, 2018
Exports maintained their robust pace of growth in February, rising a healthy 4.5% from a year earlier, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). February’s reading was marginally above January’s revised 4.4% expansion from a year earlier (previously reported: +0.9% year-on-year). Exports totaled USD 4.8 billion, coming in above the USD 4.6 billion recorded in the same month last year. February’s improvement was underpinned by stronger exports from the manufacturing, mining and quarrying industries. Moreover, trend data for December–February showed that exports from medium-high technology industries rose significantly on a year-on-year basis.
Meanwhile, imports accelerated sharply in February, climbing a hefty 33.8 from a year earlier—the fastest rise since September 2016. February’s reading came in well above January’s 15.2% increase, and reflected stronger imports of investment and consumer goods, and raw materials. Imports totaled USD 6.8 billion, considerably above the USD 5.1 billion recorded in the same month last year. Trend data for December–February also showed a spike in imports of investment goods, particularly machinery and equipment, and a more moderate increase of consumer goods on an annual basis.
All told, the trade deficit widened to USD 2.1 billion in February from USD 0.5 billion a year earlier (January: USD 1.2 billion), marking the joint-largest deficit in over three years. Additionally, the 12-month moving trade deficit widened from USD 15.6 billion in January to USD 17.1 billion in February.
Author: Javier Colato, Economist