The economy of the Palestine refers to the Palestinian territories, which comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian economy is mainly based on agriculture. The production of agricultural goods supports the population's needs and maintains Palestine's export economy. According to the Council for European Palestinian Relations, the agricultural sector formally employs 13.4% of the population and informally employs 90% of the population.
Palestinian agriculture has some problems, blockades to exportation of produce and importation of necessary inputs, widespread confiscation of land for nature reserves as well as military and settler use, confiscation and destruction of wells, and physical barriers within the West Bank. Because the root of the conflict is with land, the disputes between Israel and Palestine are well-manifested in the agriculture of Palestine.
Traditional source of income for the Palestinian economy is also stonecutting. The annual average output per worker in the stone industry is higher than in any other sector. There are 650 stone production outlets in the West Bank, 138 of them in Beit Fajjar. The quarried material is cut into a rich range of pink, sand, golden, and off-white bricks and tiles known as Jerusalem stone.
A diversity of handicrafts, many of which have been produced by Arabs in Palestine for hundreds of years, continue to be produced today. Palestinian handicrafts include embroidery work, pottery-making, soap-making, glass-making, weaving, and olive-wood and Mother of Pearl carvings, among others. Some Palestinian cities in the West Bank, particularly Bethlehem, Hebron and Nablus have gained renown for specializing in the production of a particular handicraft, with the sale and export of handicrafts forming a key part of each city's economy.
Palestine import situation represent a good business environment for other countries, especially for European Union countries. There are the following benefits cooperating with Palestinian Territories: free trade agreement with the European Union (EU) for industrial products, reduced duties on EU agricultural exports to the Palestinian Territories, established contacts in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) can be a route into the Palestinian Territories.
Strengths of the Palestinian Territories market include geographical location (a point of contact between 3 continents - Europe, Asia and Africa), entrepreneurial tradition in wholesale and retail trading, highly educated, multilingual labour force.
There are some challenges when doing business in or with Palestine, for example, economy is heavily reliant on foreign aid, access and movement restriction imposed by the Israeli authorities, some import or export restrictions (particularly in relation to Gaza), high transportation costs, land and property registration.
An Interim Association Agreement on Trade and Cooperation was concluded between the EU and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in 1997. The agreement provides for duty-free access to EU markets for Palestinian industrial goods, and a phase-out of tariffs on EU exports to Palestine over five years. An Agreement for further liberalization of agricultural products, processed agricultural products and fish and fishery products entered into force on 1 January 2012.
Due to difficult economic situation and restrictions on movement and access, trade with the EU is very limited (195 mln Euros in 2014). Palestine imports mainly machinery, chemicals and transport equipment.
Palestine Customs Contacts
The Palestinian Ministry of Finance is responsible for customs.
Palestinian state is formed from the territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The West Bank is situated to the east of Israel and the west of Jordan. The Gaza Strip is situated between Israel and Egypt on the Mediterranean coast. Palestine is a member of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, Group of 77, United Nations (permanent observer with special privileges) and other international organizations.
Importing and exporting goods in Palestine
The importer must be aware of certain requirements that must be fulfilled prior to importing and while clearing goods at the port of entry. These requirements do not apply to all categories of imported goods. Failure to meet these requirements may result in delays and additional costs. These requirements are:
- Valid Import Licenses
- Valid Certificates of Origin
- Compliance with Standards & Testing
- Compliance with Sanitary and Phytosanitary Regulations
- Proper Marking, Labeling and Packaging
The Palestinian licensing system requires an import license in the following cases:
- When imports are subject to quotas, as in the case of agricultural products and goods cited on Lists A1, A2 and B of the Paris Protocol.
- When public health is involved (i.e. meat, foodstuffs or pharmaceuticals) a license is required to verify that imports meet Palestinian standards.
- When importing petroleum, gas, telecommunications equipment, or motor vehicles.
- As the Palestinian applies the Israeli import policy, an import license is required when an (L) indication appears in the Tariff Book of Israel.
Applications for import licenses are obtained at the General Directorate of Internal Trade – Ministry of National Economy. The applicant is required to provide four copies of the application form.
The following categories of products require approval from relevant Palestinian ministries and/or entities prior to the issuance of the license:
- Gasoline (petrol) and oil require the approval of the General Petroleum Corporation.
- Cigarettes and tobacco require authorization from the Palestinian Tobacco Authority.
- Insecticide and paint mixtures require approval from the Environmental Department.
- Motor vehicles and related spare parts require approval from the Ministry of Transportation.
- Telecommunications items require the approval of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.
- Agricultural products and foodstuffs require the approval of the Ministry of Agriculture.
- Chemical products require the approval of the Ministry of Health.