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Israel vs. Syria

Economy

IsraelSyria
Economy - overview

Israel has a technologically advanced free market economy. Cut diamonds, high-technology equipment, and pharmaceuticals are among its leading exports. Its major imports include crude oil, grains, raw materials, and military equipment. Israel usually posts sizable trade deficits, which are offset by tourism and other service exports, as well as significant foreign investment inflows.

Between 2004 and 2013, growth averaged nearly 5% per year, led by exports. The global financial crisis of 2008-09 spurred a brief recession in Israel, but the country entered the crisis with solid fundamentals, following years of prudent fiscal policy and a resilient banking sector. Israel's economy also weathered the 2011 Arab Spring because strong trade ties outside the Middle East insulated the economy from spillover effects.

Slowing domestic and international demand and decreased investment resulting from Israel’s uncertain security situation reduced GDP growth to an average of roughly 2.8% per year during the period 2014-17. Natural gas fields discovered off Israel's coast since 2009 have brightened Israel's energy security outlook. The Tamar and Leviathan fields were some of the world's largest offshore natural gas finds in the last decade. Political and regulatory issues have delayed the development of the massive Leviathan field, but production from Tamar provided a 0.8% boost to Israel's GDP in 2013 and a 0.3% boost in 2014. One of the most carbon intense OECD countries, Israel generates about 57% of its power from coal and only 2.6% from renewable sources.

Income inequality and high housing and commodity prices continue to be a concern for many Israelis. Israel's income inequality and poverty rates are among the highest of OECD countries, and there is a broad perception among the public that a small number of "tycoons" have a cartel-like grip over the major parts of the economy. Government officials have called for reforms to boost the housing supply and to increase competition in the banking sector to address these public grievances. Despite calls for reforms, the restricted housing supply continues to impact younger Israelis seeking to purchase homes. Tariffs and non-tariff barriers, coupled with guaranteed prices and customs tariffs for farmers kept food prices high in 2016. Private consumption is expected to drive growth through 2018, with consumers benefitting from low inflation and a strong currency.

In the long term, Israel faces structural issues including low labor participation rates for its fastest growing social segments - the ultraorthodox and Arab-Israeli communities. Also, Israel's progressive, globally competitive, knowledge-based technology sector employs only about 8% of the workforce, with the rest mostly employed in manufacturing and services - sectors which face downward wage pressures from global competition. Expenditures on educational institutions remain low compared to most other OECD countries with similar GDP per capita.

Syria's economy has deeply deteriorated amid the ongoing conflict that began in 2011, declining by more than 70% from 2010 to 2017. The government has struggled to fully address the effects of international sanctions, widespread infrastructure damage, diminished domestic consumption and production, reduced subsidies, and high inflation, which have caused dwindling foreign exchange reserves, rising budget and trade deficits, a decreasing value of the Syrian pound, and falling household purchasing power. In 2017, some economic indicators began to stabilize, including the exchange rate and inflation, but economic activity remains depressed and GDP almost certainly fell.

During 2017, the ongoing conflict and continued unrest and economic decline worsened the humanitarian crisis, necessitating high levels of international assistance, as more than 13 million people remain in need inside Syria, and the number of registered Syrian refugees increased from 4.8 million in 2016 to more than 5.4 million.

Prior to the turmoil, Damascus had begun liberalizing economic policies, including cutting lending interest rates, opening private banks, consolidating multiple exchange rates, raising prices on some subsidized items, and establishing the Damascus Stock Exchange, but the economy remains highly regulated. Long-run economic constraints include foreign trade barriers, declining oil production, high unemployment, rising budget deficits, increasing pressure on water supplies caused by heavy use in agriculture, industrial contaction, water pollution, and widespread infrastructure damage.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$317.1 billion (2017 est.)
$307 billion (2016 est.)
$295.3 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

$50.28 billion (2015 est.)
$55.8 billion (2014 est.)
$61.9 billion (2013 est.)
note: data are in 2015 US dollars
the war-driven deterioration of the economy resulted in a disappearance of quality national level statistics in the 2012-13 period
GDP - real growth rate
3.3% (2017 est.)
4% (2016 est.)
2.6% (2015 est.)
-36.5% (2014 est.)
-30.9% (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 dollars

GDP - per capita (PPP)
$36,400 (2017 est.)
$35,900 (2016 est.)
$35,200 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

$2,900 (2015 est.)
$3,300 (2014 est.)
$2,800 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector
agriculture: 2.4% (2017 est.)
industry: 26.5% (2017 est.)
services: 69.5% (2017 est.)
agriculture: 20% (2017 est.)
industry: 19.5% (2017 est.)
services: 60.8% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line
22% (2014 est.) (2014 est.)

note: Israel's poverty line is $7.30 per person per day

82.5% (2014 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share
lowest 10%: 1.7%
highest 10%: 31.3% (2010)
lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
Inflation rate (consumer prices)
0.2% (2017 est.)
-0.5% (2016 est.)
28.1% (2017 est.)
47.3% (2016 est.)
Labor force
4.021 million (2017 est.)
3.767 million (2017 est.)
Labor force - by occupation
agriculture: 1.1%
industry: 17.3%
services: 81.6% (2015 est.)
agriculture: 17%
industry: 16%
services: 67% (2008 est.)
Unemployment rate
4.2% (2017 est.)
4.8% (2016 est.)
50% (2017 est.)
50% (2016 est.)
Budget
revenues: 93.11 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 100.2 billion (2017 est.)
revenues: 1.162 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 3.211 billion (2017 est.)

note: government projections for FY2016

Industries
high-technology products (including aviation, communications, computer-aided design and manufactures, medical electronics, fiber optics), wood and paper products, potash and phosphates, food, beverages, and tobacco, caustic soda, cement, pharmaceuticals, construction, metal products, chemical products, plastics, cut diamonds, textiles, footwear
petroleum, textiles, food processing, beverages, tobacco, phosphate rock mining, cement, oil seeds crushing, automobile assembly
Industrial production growth rate
3.5% (2017 est.)
4.3% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - products
citrus, vegetables, cotton; beef, poultry, dairy products
wheat, barley, cotton, lentils, chickpeas, olives, sugar beets; beef, mutton, eggs, poultry, milk
Exports
$58.67 billion (2017 est.)
$56.17 billion (2016 est.)
$1.85 billion (2017 est.)
$1.705 billion (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities
machinery and equipment, software, cut diamonds, agricultural products, chemicals, textiles and apparel
crude oil, minerals, petroleum products, fruits and vegetables, cotton fiber, textiles, clothing, meat and live animals, wheat
Exports - partners
US 28.8%, UK 8.2%, Hong Kong 7%, China 5.4%, Belgium 4.5% (2017)
Lebanon 31.5%, Iraq 10.3%, Jordan 8.8%, China 7.8%, Turkey 7.5%, Spain 7.3% (2017)
Imports
$68.61 billion (2017 est.)
$63.9 billion (2016 est.)
$6.279 billion (2017 est.)
$5.496 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities
raw materials, military equipment, investment goods, rough diamonds, fuels, grain, consumer goods
machinery and transport equipment, electric power machinery, food and livestock, metal and metal products, chemicals and chemical products, plastics, yarn, paper
Imports - partners
US 11.7%, China 9.5%, Switzerland 8%, Germany 6.8%, UK 6.2%, Belgium 5.9%, Netherlands 4.2%, Turkey 4.2%, Italy 4% (2017)
Russia 32.4%, Turkey 16.7%, China 9.5% (2017)
Debt - external
$88.66 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$87.96 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$4.989 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$5.085 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Exchange rates
new Israeli shekels (ILS) per US dollar -
3.606 (2017 est.)
3.8406 (2016 est.)
3.8406 (2015 est.)
3.8869 (2014 est.)
3.5779 (2013 est.)
Syrian pounds (SYP) per US dollar -
514.6 (2017 est.)
459.2 (2016 est.)
459.2 (2015 est.)
236.41 (2014 est.)
153.695 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year
calendar year
calendar year
Public debt
60.9% of GDP (2017 est.)
62.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
94.8% of GDP (2017 est.)
91.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold
$113 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$95.45 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$407.3 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$504.6 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Current Account Balance
$10.12 billion (2017 est.)
$11.94 billion (2016 est.)
-$2.123 billion (2017 est.)
-$2.077 billion (2016 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)
$350.7 billion (2017 est.)
$24.6 billion (2014 est.) (2014 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares
$243.9 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$200.5 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
$203.3 billion (31 December 2013 est.)

NA

Central bank discount rate
0.1% (15 December 2015)
0.25% (31 December 2014)
0.75% (31 December 2017)
5% (31 December 2016)
Commercial bank prime lending rate
3.5% (31 December 2017 est.)
3.42% (31 December 2016 est.)
14% (31 December 2017 est.)
22% (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of domestic credit
$290.7 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$257.4 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$9.161 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$5.786 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of narrow money
$100.4 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$79.58 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$7.272 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$4.333 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of broad money
$100.4 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$79.58 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$7.272 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$4.333 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues
26.5% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
4.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)
-2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
-8.7% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24
total: 7.3%
male: 6.7%
female: 7.8% (2017 est.)
total: 35.8%
male: 26.6%
female: 71.1% (2011 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use
household consumption: 55.1% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 22.8% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 20.1% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 0.7% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 28.9% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -27.5% (2017 est.)
household consumption: 73.1% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 26% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 18.6% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 12.3% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 16.1% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -46.1% (2017 est.)
Gross national saving
23.6% of GDP (2017 est.)
24.2% of GDP (2016 est.)
25% of GDP (2015 est.)
17% of GDP (2017 est.)
15.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
16.1% of GDP (2015 est.)

Source: CIA Factbook