In her 66 years of existence, Israel has seen a 16,000% increase in commercial exports, according to the Israel Export Institute, which released a review in honor of Israel’s recent Independence Day.
Due to a relatively small domestic market and location — surrounded as Israel is by hostile neighbors — the country was forced early on to expand its exports. From a total of $6 million-worth of goods and services in 1948 to $95 billion in 2013, exports have contributed significantly to Israel’s strong economy.
Since 1990, exports have been rising steadily at an average of 7.7% annually. At that time, they were primarily agricultural, industrial or electrical products, but since then, services, including software, Internet and security technology, have grown in importance. Product exports accounted for $12.7 billion in 1990, and $61.7 billion in 2013, while services grew from $4.6 billion in 1990 to $33.1 billion in 2013.
Top exports in this period include pharmaceuticals, chemicals, electronic parts, software, aircraft and telecom, according to the institute. Teva Pharmaceuticals, now a world force, accounts for much of the growth in that sector.
Not all industries showed aggressive growth in the past 24 years, however. Food and beverage exports increased only 4.8% annually in that time, while textile exports grew a mere 0.1%.
“The rapid growth in exports in recent decades was due to export of services, which, as exports of products slowed, have turned into an engine of growth for the economy,” the institute said.