Israel’s 2013 GDP Grows Slower-Than-Expected 3.3%, Bureau Says

Israel’s economy expanded slower than previously estimated this year, as exports and investment stagnated.

Gross domestic product increased 3.3 percent from 2012, the Central Bureau of Statistics said at a Jerusalem press conference today, based on partial data for the year. The figure compares with the bureau’s previous 3.4 percent estimate, which would have maintained growth at the same level as last year.

“We’re in a state of slow growth,” said Oz Shimony, head of the statistics bureau’s macroeconomics division. “Two major engines on an annual level, exports and investment in fixed capital, didn’t grow as they did in previous years.”

Earlier this month, the Finance Ministry projected growth of 3.6 percent and the Bank of Israel forecast 3.5 percent.

The central bank’s monetary policy committee, led by Governor Karnit Flug, held the benchmark interest rate at its lowest in four years on Dec. 23, citing new data indicating a “stable” growth rate, and signs of “some recovery”, including in exports. The 1 percent rate will remain unchanged at the end of January as well, according to all 12 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Exports of goods and services declined 0.1 percent in 2013, compared with an increase of 0.9 percent last year, the bureau said. Investment in fixed capital inched up 0.3 percent, as against 3.5 percent in 2012. Consumer spending jumped 4 percent, compared with 3.2 percent last year.

GDP per capita rose 1.4 percent in 2013 to 130,800 shekels ($36,200), the bureau said. Last year, GDP per capita increased 1.5 percent.

Israel posted a current-account surplus of $3.9 billion in 2013, or 1.3 percent of GDP, compared with a surplus of $850 million, or 0.3 percent, the previous year.

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