Economy Minister Eli Cohen at the Maariv Leaders Conference.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Israel has the potential to be one of world’s leading countries in terms of per capita gross domestic product (GDP) within a decade, Minister of Economy Eli Cohen said Monday.
Per capita GDP measures a country’s economic output relative to its population, thereby enabling a comparison of relative performance of countries.
Speaking at the Maariv Leaders Conference held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Jerusalem, Cohen said Israel could rise from its current ranking of 21st among 36 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member states according to per capita GDP by focusing on the country’s hi-tech and energy sectors.
“Israel is ranked 21st among OECD member states in terms of GDP per capita.
Within a decade, we want to be inside the top ten,” Cohen said.
“If we focus on hi-tech and integrate haredim and Arabs, and with money received from energy – we can be in the top ten.”
According to OECD data published in 2012, Israel’s per capita GDP stands at $32,587 – below the OECD state average of $37,311.
“We currently have 9% of Israelis employed directly in hi-tech, some 300,000 individuals. Our objective in the next five years is to have 500,000 Israelis employed in hi-tech,” Cohen said.
A biannual OECD report published in March warned that Israel’s hi-tech industry has expanded at half the rate than the general economy since 2010, weakening its status as a key engine of growth for the country.
Taking into consideration projected demographic changes in Israel, the report warned that failure to better integrate Arabs and ultra-Orthodox Jews into the workforce could have severe consequences.
“If the authorities fail in their enhanced integration efforts and these groups [Arabs and the ultra-Orthodox] keep their current employment and productivity gaps, average Israeli incomes would fall to close to 30% below the OECD average in 2059, almost double the current gap,” the report stated.
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