Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Israeli shekel appreciated by 8.3% against the US dollar since 2015 and gained 0.7% from 2018 to 2019. Israel’s stronger local currency makes its exports paid for in weaker US dollars relatively more expensive for international buyers.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 71.2% of products exported from Israel were bought by importers in: United States (27.5% of the global total), United Kingdom (8.5%), China (8.1%), Hong Kong (5.1%), Netherlands (3.7%), India (3.4%), Turkey (2.9%), Germany (2.8%), Belgium (also 2.8%), France (2.6%), Brazil (2%) and Switzerland (1.8%).
From a continental perspective, 35.2% of Israel’s exports by value were delivered to European countries while 31.1% were sold to importers in North America. Israel shipped another 27.8% worth of goods to Asia. Smaller percentages went to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (3.3%), Africa (1.2%) then Oceania led by Australia (1.1%).
Given Israel’s population of 9.1 million people, its total $58.4 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $6,500 for every resident in the Middle Eastern country.
Israel’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Israeli global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Israel.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $8 billion (13.7%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $5.5 billion (9.4%)
- Machinery including computers: $5 billion (8.6%)
- Organic chemicals: $4.3 billion (7.4%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $3.3 billion (5.7%)
- Other chemical goods: $3 billion (5.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $2.8 billion (4.7%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $2.5 billion (4.2%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $1.4 billion (2.5%)
Israel’s top 10 exports accounted for 81.3% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Organic chemicals was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 208.7% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales was aircraft and spacecraft: via a 10.8% gain. Israel’s shipments of mineral fuels including oil posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 3.1%.
The leading decliner among Israel’s top 10 export categories was pharmaceuticals thanks to a -41.2% drop year over year.
From the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, Israel’s most valuable exported goods were unmounted diamonds (19,3% of total), heterocyclics and nucleic acids (5.8%), medication mixes in dosage (4.5%), aircraft parts (3.8%), integrated circuits and microassemblies (3.5%), electro-medical equipment including xrays (3.1%) then mobile phones (3%).
The following types of Israeli product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Gems, precious metals: US$6.7 billion (Down by -16.1% since 2018)
- Organic chemicals: $2.8 billion (Down by -1341.2%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $2.7 billion (Up by 0.1%)
- Other chemical goods: $2.1 billion (Down by -12.3%)
- Fertilizers: $1.2 billion (Down by -5.1%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $778.2 million (Up by 47%)
- Base metal tools, cutlery: $717.6 million (Down by -29.2%)
- Arms, ammunition: $674.1 million (Down by -4.2%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $557 million (Down by -82.6%)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: $362.7 million (Down by -32.4%)
Israel has highly positive net exports in the international trade of diamonds, jewelry and precious metals scrap. In turn, these cashflows indicate Israel’s strong competitive advantages under the gems and precious metals product category.
Overall, Israel incurred an -$18 billion product trade deficit for 2019, up by 22.9% from the -$14.7 billion in red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Israel that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Israel’s goods trail Israeli importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$7.8 billion (Down by -6.6% since 2018)
- Vehicles: -$6.8 billion (Up by 8.8%)
- Machinery including computers: -$4.4 billion (Down by -11.8%)
- Iron, steel: -$1.5 billion (Down by -9.7%)
- Ships, boats: -$1.1 billion (Up by 2041.7%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$1 billion (Up by 12%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$1 billion (Down by -0.3%)
- Cereals: -$914.7 million (Down by -0.8%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$856.6 million (Up by 9.9%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$791.2 million (Up by 8.5%)
Israel has highly negative net exports and therefore a deep international trade deficit for crude and refined petroleum oils, coal then petroleum gas.
Israeli Export Companies
Ten Israeli corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000. Below is a sample of the world-class Israeli companies that Forbes included:
- Bank Hapoalim (financial institution)
- Bank Leumi (financial institution)
- Check Point Software (information systems)
- Delek Group (investment services)
- FIBI Holdings (regional bank)
- IDB Holding (investment services)
- Israel Corp (investment services)
- Israel Discount Bank (regional bank)
- Mizrahi Tefahot Bank (regional bank)
- Teva Pharmaceutical (health care)
Shown within parentheses is the industry in which each country operates.
In macroeconomic terms, Israel’s total exported goods represent 16.5% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2019 ($354.2 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 16.5% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2019 compares to 18.4% for 2018. This suggests a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Israel’s total economic performance albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Israel’s average unemployment rate was 3.991% for 2019 down from 4% one year earlier, according to the International Monetary Fund.
Israel’s capital city is Jerusalem.
See also Israel’s Top 10 Imports, Israel’s Top Trading Partners, Palestine’s Top 10 Exports and Lebanon’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Middle East: Israel. Accessed on March 24, 2020
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 24, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 24, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 24, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 24, 2020
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 24, 2020
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 24, 2020
Wikipedia, Israel. Accessed on March 24, 2020
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Israel. Accessed on March 24, 2020
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 24, 2020
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Jerusalem, Israel. Accessed on March 24, 2020