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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Exports of services came to $9.7 billion in the first half of 2006, up 14 percent from a year earlier, the Federation of Israel Chambers of Commerce said this week.
"We must stop thinking about exports in terms of goods exports alone. The part of services exports, which account for 31.4% of all Israeli exports, continues to expand," said federation president Uriel Lynn.
Federation economic and tax director Israela Mani estimated that services exports would grow a total of 14% by the end of 2006 over 2005 levels to $20b.
"The weight of services exports in world trade has grown over the last years primarily as a result of the expansion of maritime shipping, communications services, computerization and infrastructures," Mani said.
Tourism services exports grew by 22% to $1.65b. in the first half of the year, to account for 17% of total service exports, but transport delivery services (primarily shipping) - which accounted for 19% of services exports - fell 0.4% to $1.827b. Exports of "other" services such as commerce, industry and leisure - 64% of total services exports - grew 16% to $6.2b. in the first half of the year. In this group, computer programming services grew 11% to $1.67b., the federation said.
Separately, the Manufacturers Association of Israel said exports to Saudi Arabia - both direct and indirect - grew 10% in the first half of 2006 against the same period last year, to total $470,000. The products include medical equipment, fertilizer, minerals, metals, machinery and mechanical equipment.
"There is no doubt that there is great potential to develop the trade relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and any political warming would be liable to contribute to increasing the economic links between the two countries," the association said.
Also, the association's printed materials director Meir Bar-el said exports of Jewish holy books and kabbalah literature destined for audiences of all faiths would grow 17% by the end of the year to $53m. About 60% of the exported kabbalah books are sold in the US and 30% to Europe, he noted.
Israeli print exports as a whole were expected to grow 11.3% this year to $158m., while domestic sales would grow 5% to about $2b., Bar-el estimated.
Israel's print industry is short 300 skilled professionals in the field, said Bar-el, who added that paper prices by the ton have risen 30% in the first eight months of the year.
In the first half of the year, print exports to Egypt doubled against the first six months of 2005 to about $100,000, while print exports to Morocco tripled to $30,000 while growing 250% to $70,000 to Jordan, the association said.
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