The pattern of Israeli exports underwent changes in the first quarter of this year, according to an analysis by the economics division of the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute.

The US remains the most important destination by far, but the UK has become the largest in Europe.

Turkey has dropped from third to sixth, as relations between Israel and Turkey continue to be sour. The UK is in second place, up from seventh last year, and is Israel’s largest export destination in Europe.

Total exports of goods (excluding diamonds) to the US were worth $2.4 billion in the first quarter, which represents a sharp 23 percent drop in comparison with the first quarter of 2011. The drop is mainly due to a decline in exports of drugs, with drugs exports being diverted from the US to Europe.

Exports to the UK totaled $650 million, 84% more than in the corresponding quarter.

Exports of drugs to the UK soared 730%.

Holland was the third largest export destination in the first quarter of 2012, down from second in the corresponding quarter last year. Exports to Holland totaled $630m., 18% more than in the corresponding quarter. China was in fourth place, up from fifth. First quarter exports to China totaled $540m., 15% more than in the corresponding quarter.

Germany fell from fourth place in the first quarter of 2011 to fifth in the first quarter of this year. Exports to Germany totaled $410m., down 15%. The Export Institute points out that Germany had been one of Israel’s most stable export destinations, growing consistently from year to year.

Exports to Turkey totaled $390 million in the first quarter this year, down 23% from the corresponding quarter.

According to the Export Institute, chemicals and refined oil products accounted for 65% of exports to Turkey in the first quarter of this year, and a 26% decline in exports in this sector was the main factor in the overall decline.

Export Institute Chairman Ramzi Gabbay said: “The changes in the pattern of Israeli exports reflect the impact of dominant sectors such as drugs, chemicals and electronic components on export figures for markets such as the US, Britain, Holland, Turkey, China and India. Of particular concern is the decline in exports to Germany in most export sectors.

“There is no doubt that Israeli exporters are finding it tough to cope with the difficulties in Israel’s main markets, because of the strength of shekel in real terms in comparison with four-to-five years ago, alongside growing competition from South-East Asian companies,” he added.

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