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  • Publication
    West Bank and Gaza Investment Climate Assessment : Fragmentation and Uncertainty
    (Washington, DC, 2014-01) World Bank Group
    This Investment Climate Assessment (ICA) seeks to evaluate the conditions under which the Palestinian private sector currently operates in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza strip. This assessment is both an update and expansion on a similar assessment undertaken by the World Bank in 2006. As such, it provides both a snapshot of the investment climate in 2013, as well as a longitudinal view of what has changed in the intervening seven years and, just as importantly, what has not. Where relevant, it also compares indicators of the Palestinian investment climate with those of other countries in the region and beyond. The objective of this assessment is to provide the Palestinian business community, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the international development community with an empirical analysis of the investment climate under which Palestinian businesses operate. The report describes the key constraints on business and investment and identifies reform priorities for those aspects of the investment climate and constraints which are within the PA's control, as well as some policy recommendations for areas outside of the PA's control, but within the domain of development partner assistance agendas and/or Israeli policies. This analysis is intended to inform Palestinian policy-maker actions to improve the business environment. It can also help inform the actions of other concerned parties, including the international development community, regional actors, and the Government of Israel regarding policies that affect Palestinian economic growth and sustainability.
  • Publication
    Fiscal Crisis, Economic Prospects: The Imperative for Economic Cohesion in the Palestinian Territories, Economic Monitoring Report to the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2012-09-23) World Bank
    Economic growth in West Bank and Gaza (WB&G) slowed in the first quarter (Q1) of 2012. The real growth rate is estimated to have reached 5.6 percent, more than three percentage points lower than the Q1 2011 growth figure and almost one percent lower than the growth forecast contained in the Palestinian Authority's (PA's) budget. This decline is attributed to a major slowdown in Gaza, where real growth decreased from 21.3 percent to 6 percent on a year-on-year basis. The slowdown in Gaza during Q1 of 2012 was mainly attributed to a major decline in the agriculture and fishing sector, which offset much of the growth witnessed in other sectors. This sector shrank by 43 percent in Q1 2012 due to frequent power outages resulting from the lack of fuel in Gaza. Nevertheless, other sectors in Gaza expanded and the highest growth levels were witnessed in the construction, and hotels and restaurants sectors. In the West Bank, growth in Q1 2012 was broadly unchanged from its 2011 level. Most of the growth was from an expansion of services, which contributed around 2.2 percentage points of the 5.4 percent total growth in Q1 2012. The recent slowdown in economic growth is also reflected in higher unemployment levels. Overall unemployment in WB&G was 20.9 percent in the second quarter of 2012 compared to 18.7 percent during the same period in 2011. A serious concern in WB&G is the high level of youth unemployment that is accompanied by low youth participation in the labor force.
  • Publication
    West Bank and Gaza - Investment Climate Assessment : Unlocking the Potential of the Private Sector
    (Washington, DC, 2007-03) World Bank
    It is the purpose of this Investment Climate Assessment (ICA) to look at what hinders the move of the Palestinians to new markets and what can be done to encourage it. The ICA reveals that shrinking market access and the lack of free movement are the main constraints to growth for Palestinian enterprises. Relative to other countries in the region, the Palestinian investment climate is good: petty corruption is low, the bureaucracy is relatively efficient and financial markets are well developed. Despite this, Palestinian enterprises have not invested enough to maintain their international competitiveness. However, the report points out that the growing settlements and movement restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities for security reasons overshadow all other elements of the investment climate. The restrictions close off markets, raise transaction costs and prevent producers from guaranteeing delivery dates. The closures also serve to keep firms small and prevent them from attaining minimum efficient scale. The ICA policy recommendations fall into three broad categories: movement and access, the investment climate, and enterprise capabilities. For the Palestinian private sector to fulfill its potential and create the jobs required by the rapidly expanding population, all three of these areas must be addressed. However, re-establishing free movement and access, while maintaining Israeli security, is the sine qua non for a viable Palestinian economy. Without a concerted political effort to re-open markets and lower transaction costs the Palestinian private sector is bound to fail.
  • Publication
    Disengagement, the Palestinian Economy and the Settlements
    (Washington, DC, 2004-06-23) World Bank
    This report stresses that the deep economic crisis in the West Bank and Gaza threatens to impoverish and alienate a generation of young Palestinians. Moreover, today's economic crisis has been caused by restrictions on the movement of Palestinian people and goods, or 'closures', which the Government of Israel (GOI) regards as essential to protecting Israeli citizens from attacks by militants. Without a major reform of the closure regime, however, the Palestinian economy will not revive and Israel's security gains may not be sustainable. The report adds that Israel's Disengagement Plan of June 6 will have very little impact on the Palestinian economy and Palestinian livelihoods, since it only proposes a limited easing of closure. An easing of closures alone, though, will not attract investors back to the Palestinian economy. The review opines that with a freeing-up of the constraints on economic activity and committed Palestinian reform, an additional major donor effort would make a difference - it would enable the Palestinian economy to turn the corner. However, the alternative to this is stark. At the wrong end of the spectrum of possible outcomes is a Palestinian economy with unemployment levels of over 35 percent by 2006, and with poverty afflicting upwards of 55 and 70 percent in Gaza. The study points out that as for the settlement assets that Israel will leave behind, those in Gaza have considerable economic value, and in time can make a significant contribution - provided that Gaza's borders are opened for trade. Prospects for economic recovery will be enhanced if the US and the EU give adequate preference to Palestinian products to help boost exports.
  • Publication
    Long-Term Policy Options for the Palestinian Economy
    (Washington, DC, 2002-07) World Bank
    In light of deteriorating economic relations between Israel and the West Bank and Gaza, and suspended peace negotiations, it is timely at this juncture between the lapsed Interim Period and a final status agreement to examine past experience with a view to assessing the policy choices facing Palestinian policymakers in the future. The post-Oslo experience points to failed economic normalization and income convergence with Israel. Several reasons for these failures have been advanced, including poor implementation of the Paris Protocol, as well as fundamental flaws inherent to the protocol itself. The experience under the Paris Protocol illustrates the degree to which political and economic factors are intertwined; both types of factors need to be addressed in a comprehensive framework. The fact that political pressures from Israeli security concerns introduced severe economic hardship on the Palestinians and threatened newly-gained Palestinian autonomy contributed to the unraveling of the interim agreement. The economic environment of uncertainty, risk, costly transactions, and inadequate legal, regulatory and financial institutions hampered private sector development and especially Palestinian-Israeli partnerships and business networks at the firm level, effectively weakening an important tie that holds civil society together. These factors further undermined Palestinian economic growth, laying the foundation for political crisis and civil conflict. Given the problems associated with the existing policy framework, this analysis examines alternative policy options that will face Palestinian policymakers in the event of a peace agreement with Israel. These future policy choices relate to trade, labor mobility to Israel, and the business environment and associated public-private interactions. In a first stage, each policy area is analyzed separately, that is, in a partial equilibrium context independent of the others without accounting for broader intersectoral relationships. In a second stage, the analysis brings together these separate areas into an integrated framework. A range of assumptions vis-e-vis the nature of borders between West Bank and Gaza and Israel is delineated, tying together the trade, labor and private sector development considerations to measure their combined impact on growth prospects. The analysis develops scenarios to reflect different combinations of future policy options linked to the nature of borders with Israel. This simulation exercise illustrates the relative merits of each scenario, the associated trade-offs, and the prospects for economic growth in the event of a peace agreement and a completion of final status negotiations.