Whatever the state of ‘peace talks’ to end the Israeli occupation and create an independent Palestinian state, or of protests in the West Bank, the coming months and years are likely to see a renewed focus on the private sector economy in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Investment —- from Palestinians in the diaspora, private Arab funds and foreign corporations, as well as from important ‘donors,’ such as the World Bank, the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the UK, the European Union, Japan and Canada — is increasing, reflecting the sector’s remarkable resilience in the past few years, and its huge potential in the medium-term.
Expotech runs from 6 to 11 October in Ramallah andGaza. Graphic: PITA, in the October issue of The Middle East magazine.
Expanding and developing it further is now also seen as crucial to stemming unemployment and rising prices, particularly among the youth in Palestine. This would also help to make the economy less dependent on Israel and foreign aid. Continue reading →
One of the main aims of InvestPalestine.com is to promote the bright prospects for the Palestinian economy—and the advantages of investing in it – in the international media, both print and digital. Here’s one example, a 10-page Special Report on Palestine: Building Bridges to the Future, that appeared in the October issue of the London-based, pan-Arab, English-language monthly, The Middle East, which is due to be available online in the coming week. Alternatively, you can pick up the magazine at your local newsstand, or subscribe.
Reaching international readers: A Special Report from the London-based, pan-Arab monthly, The Middle East and InvestPalestine.com.
A series of recent studies from the UN, the World Bank, the UK, France and the European Union, as well as other international organisations, has highlighted the huge potential of agriculture and fishing in the West Bank and Gaza and the extremely important contribution a revived sector could provide to both Palestine’s GDP and the urgent need to create new jobs, especially for the young and in the rural areas.
Palestine’s Jordan Valley is one of the world’s richest, and most diverse, agricultural areas. Picture: JICA
At present, all the reports emphasize that the escalation of Israeli settlements, particularly in the fertile Jordan Valley; Israeli military control of ‘Area C;’ and the rapidly dwindling amount of water available to Palestinian farmers has led to a sharp decline in both cultivation and output. Fishing and fish processing in Gaza is also stagnating, they add, due to the harsh Israeli restrictions, both onshore and offshore. Continue reading →
The UK government, along with a growing list of international ICT giants such as Google, Microsoft, Cisco and Intel, is the latest to recognise Palestine’s huge potential in information communications and technology given its highly talented younger generation, which is fluent in English and Arabic, as well as in entrepreneurial and engineering skills. Britain’s Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaisey, says that his government hopes to get Palestinian and UK businesses “to work together,” and that it will actively seek to encourage British companies to “come and start business in Palestine.”
He was commenting during a visit to Ramallah in March that also included a tour of the headquarters of Palestine’s telecommunications corporation, PalTel, which, with its subsidiaries Jawwal and Hadara, provides the majority of Internet, landline and mobile services in the West Bank and Gaza. PalTel, which is a favourite of international investors on the Palestine Securities Exchange, reported a 5.1 per cent increase in profits last year, to $128 million, despite the difficulties of the Israeli occupation in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Thanks to an intensive expansion programme, it has now extended its services to the Jordan Valley region, and is planning to invest an additional $70 million to $80 million by the end of this year in new fibre optic and mobile phone infrastructure, primarily for the Internet.
Confidence in Palestine’s regulatory framework and in the resilience of the Palestine Stock Exchange in the wake of turmoil in the Arab world* is helping to boost both regional and foreign interest in its new investment funds, officials and analysts report. So too is the growing possibility that the Palestine Stock Exchange (PEX) will be added to the MSCI Frontier Markets Index, which currently groups 26 countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Jordan as well as the Arab oil exporting countries of Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
Munib Al-Masri, Chairman of Padico Holding, outside his home in Nablus. Padico is a favourite of international investors.
Launched in May, 2011, the Luxembourg-based Rasmala Palestine Equity Fund is currently trading almost 5 per cent below its peak, but above the lows reached in November in the aftermath of the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN and the withdrawal of substantial aid funds from the US, as well as the temporary halt in tax revenue transfers by Israel. Beginning with $15 million, provided in part by the Palestine Authority’s Palestine Investment Fund, it is open-ended and is expected to reach up to $100 million by mid-2014. RPEF is targeting a diversified portfolio of growth and value stocks listed exclusively on PEX, as well as initial public offerings (IPOs) and Palestinian firms which may be considering IPOs. Favoured sectors include telecommunications and pharmaceuticals as well as banking and investment.