Exports to Arab countries grew 34.5 percent to $57 million in the first quarter of 2006, boosted by the success of the Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) agreement Israel has with Egypt, the Israel Export Institute said Tuesday.
"Over the last year we've seen a 110% growth in exports to Egypt resulting from the QIZ agreement," said Yehiel Asia, director general of the IEI. "Today we have 257 exporters doing business in Egypt and as part of the QIZ agreement the institute is coordinating activity between them and the Embassy in Cairo."
Asia added that a meeting between Israeli and Egyptians is planned for September.
In the first quarter of 2006, industrial exports to Egypt were $26.5m., up 148.5% from the parallel period last year, with the big sellers being textile, clothing, chemical and oil refinery products.
Israel signed its QIZ agreement with Egypt, which was recognized by the US, in December 2004, allowing merchandise to enter US markets with duty and tax reductions as long as they include an Israeli component.
While Israel also has a QIZ with Jordan, the effects of that agreement, however, have diminished due to a recent trade agreement Jordan signed with the US allowing for free trade between the two countries.
As a result, exports to Jordan dropped 6% in the first quarter compared to 2005, and stood at $26.5m. for the period, with the number of exporters doing business with Jordan dropping by 25% to 1,343 at the end of March.
Meanwhile, exports to other Arab countries also showed steady growth for the quarter, the IEI reported, including a 46% rise in sales to Iraq to $320,000 with 27 exporters active in that market.
Exports to Morocco rose 23.5% to $2m. and to Tunis increased 16% to $500,000 for the quarter. Indirect sales of Israeli products to Arab countries amounted to $3m. in the first three months of the year.
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