In 2013, Israel’s trade deficit fell 26.6 percent, according to data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics on Monday.

Despite the ever-strengthening shekel, exports only fell a modest 1.6%.

The trade deficit for 2013 was NIS 51.7 billion, a significant drop from the 2012’s NIS 70.4b deficit, but on par with 2011’s NIS 52.2b.

The Bank of Israel has been battling the shekel’s falling exchange rate, buying up foreign reserves in hopes of easing the effect on exporters. In 2013, the shekel strengthened some 7% against the dollar and 2.8% against the euro, according to BoI. Compared to a basket of currencies weighted to represent Israel’s main trading partners, the shekel strengthened 7.6%.

On Monday, the shekel to dollar rate closed at 3.48, again below the 3.5 mark it briefly floated above since the last round of direct monetary interventions.

Though the trade figures were not positive, their mild annual decrease draws a somewhat different picture than the Manufacturer’s Association of Israel has painted. The MAI has repeatedly called for more stringent foreign exchange interventions.

According to CBS, exports in 2013 stood at NIS 204.6b., though that figure fell to NIS 170.7b. if ships, airplanes and diamonds were excluded from the formulation.

Of that, industrial exports (which represent the vast majority of Israel’s exports) were down 2.7% and agricultural exports lowered 3.1%, while diamond exports rose 3.7%.

The level of imports, too, dropped to NIS 256.3b. in 2013, an 8% decline from the previous year.

The figures excluded trade with the Palestinian territories, and additional data may alter the numbers, to be presented in their final form in April.

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