Trade gap doubles from year ago

Imports boosted by rise in fuel, chemical, consumer goods.

inflation arrow up 88 (photo credit: )
inflation arrow up 88
(photo credit: )
Israel's trade deficit (excluding services) expanded to $877.8 million in January, 7.1 percent wider than in December and double last January's $438.5m., according to figures released Monday by the Central Bureau of Statistics. Growth in exports of agricultural produce and manufactured goods were offset by a drop in exports of raw and polished diamonds, while imports were boosted by rises in fuel, chemical and consumer goods. The bureau partially attributed the widening of the trade gap in January to fluctuations in the exchange rates of world currencies. In seasonally-adjusted terms, the trade deficit widened 47% against January 2005 to $918.3m. from $623.6m., while trend data indicated relative stability in the deficit, reflected in a mere 2.5% rise to $217.2m. this January. Exports of goods sank just under 0.1% to $3.03 billion in January, from $3.06b. the same month last year, bogged down by diamond exports (raw and polished), which fell 10.5% to $886.1m. Excluding ships, aircraft and diamonds, exports rose nearly 3.7%. Industrial exports rose 3.1% to $2.01b. from $1.95b. and agricultural exports grew 7.2% to $122.8m. from $114.5m., while "other" exports jumped nearly five-fold to $9.2m. in January from $1.9m. the year before. The value of imported goods rose almost 11.8% to just under $3.91b. from $3.49b. in January 2005. Fuel imports alone accounted for more than one-third of the rise, jumping to $592.3m. from $447.8m. one year before, while chemical imports accounted for one sixth of the rise, expanding to $322.1m. from $254.2m. Consumer imports accounted for nearly one quarter of the growth in total imports; durable goods imports rose 34%, to $223.7m. in January from $166.9m. one year before, with imports of transport equipment nearly doubling, to $110.7m. from $59m. Imports of non-durable goods, such as clothing and footwear, food, beverages, medicines, and household wares, rose 16% to $276m., against $237.9m. in January 2005. Rises in most import categories were tempered somewhat by falls in diamonds (down 9.7% to $640.2m.) and precious metals (down 31.3% to $12.5m.).