Israeli exports tumbled in the second quarter, according to data from the Central Bureau of Statistics. Compared to the numbers in the period February-April 2015, exports were down in the same period in 2016 by 21.7 percent.
The dip in the second quarter was a continuation of one that had begun in the first quarter. Exports in the three previous months were down 13.7 percent.
The fall in exports hit almost all the major export areas equally. High-tech exports fell 32.1 percent in the second quarter, following a fall of 22.7 percent in Q1 2016. Exports of non-technology services fell 4.1 percent in the second quarter and 1.3 percent in the first.
One bright spot was tourism, which, although still below the level prior to Operation Protective Edge which began in June 2014, was improving. Income from tourism was up 6.3 percent in the second quarter, after rising a more modest 0.9 percent in Q1. The number of nights spent in hotels by foreign visitors was up 4.4 percent in Q2 2016, and for Israelis that figure was 7.9 percent. Both figures were annualized.
Exports are responsible for 35 percent of the Israeli economy, and the drop in exports led Bank Hapoalim on Monday to cut its growth forecast for Israel for 2016. Instead of growing 2.8 percent in 2016, the economy is expected to grow 2.2 percent, the bank said. According to Professor Leo Liederman, chief economist of the Bank, “Israel is being particularly hurt by slowdowns in technology and pharmaceuticals around the world because a high percentage of its exports are in those areas,” he told Globes.