1. Market Research
Country Report Israel October 2017

Country Report Israel October 2017

  • October 2017
  • ID: 359680
  • Format: PDF
  • By The Economist Intelligence Unit

Summary

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Outlook for 2018-22



  • The political outlook will remain unstable, which will lead to policy setbacks, with the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, facing increased dissent within his coalition government, requiring deft manoeuvring to avoid defections.
  • A strong economy and regional dynamics should help Mr Netanyahu to stay in post, although an election is likely before the scheduled 2019 date; he will probably be re-elected, unless corruption allegations lead to his indictment.
  • On Iran, the US's harder line under Donald Trump is closer to Israel's stance. On the Israeli-Palestinian issue, US efforts to revive confidence-building measures and peace talks will not be forceful enough to lead to a peace deal.
  • Government spending will continue to rise, but steady revenue growth will keep the deficit manageable and broadly on a downward trajectory.
  • Real GDP will expand by an average of 3.8% a year in 2018-22 as volatile global growth in the middle of the forecast period is tempered by strong domestic demand and the start of gas exports in 2020-21.
  • The Israeli shekel will appreciate in nominal terms against major currencies and especially against a weaker US dollar, reflecting robust fundamentals including large current-account surpluses and high foreign-exchange reserves.


Review



  • A police corruption investigation into the Israeli navy's purchase of German submarines and missile boats has widened after six associates of Mr Netanyahu, and of the energy minister, Yuval Steinitz (although he has not been implicated), were detained and two others brought in for questioning.
  • On September 7th Israeli warplanes reportedly attacked a Syrian site believed to be used for producing chemical weapons and storing surface-to-surface missiles. The Syrian authorities warned of "dangerous repercussions", although Israel subsequently carried out further air attacks on Syrian sites.
  • In a meeting with the US president, Donald Trump, on September 18th Mr Netanyahu repeated his calls for the cancellation or amendment of the Iranian nuclear accord.
  • Tourism inflows have expanded strongly in 2017, with revenue rising by more than 18% year on year in the first half of 2017 and foreign tourist arrivals up by more than 23% year on year in July-August. Israelis are taking advantage of a strong economy and currency and also travelling abroad in record numbers.
  • Balance-of-payment data for the second quarter of 2017 show that the country's current-account surplus remains broadly stable having narrowed earlier in the year, and foreign capital inflows, in direct and-especially-portfolio investments, grew significantly, although these tend to fluctuate.


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