West Bank and Gaza - Country Commercial Guide
Market Overview

Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, and other issues that affect trade.

Last published date: 2020-09-13

Ample opportunities for doing business exist within the Palestinian market in the West Bank and Gaza, despite the unique challenges present. While economic restrictions exist in both geographic areas, the economies of the West Bank and Gaza have grown increasingly separate since the Hamas takeover in Gaza in 2007. The subsequent imposition of security restrictions by Israel and Egypt on the type of goods that enter the Gaza Strip has made it very difficult to enter the market there. The West Bank economy (comprising for the purposes of this guide Areas A and B under Palestinian Authority (PA) administrative control), on the other hand, has shown growth in past years before a more recent downturn.

  • In 2018, the Nominal GDP of the West Bank and Gaza was estimated at $14.7 billion and per capita GDP was $3,000.

  • In 2018, the Palestinian population stands at 4.9 million with 3 million in the West Bank and 1.9 million in Gaza, according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. Thirty-nine percent of the population is under 14 years.

  • Despite relatively low per capita GDP, there is a sizeable middle/upper-middle class in the West Bank. The West Bank and Gaza boast one of the highest per capita rates of university graduates in the Arab world. Palestinians have a long-standing tradition of spending generously on higher education, which is regarded as an asset.

  • In 2018, Palestinian imports of goods and services reached $8.73 billion and exports were $2.9 billion.¬† West Bank and Gaza imports come mostly from Israel, Turkey, and China; imports from Jordan have risen in recent years.

  • The Palestinian market relies heavily on Israel as a trading partner; it accounts for around 82.5% of total Palestinian imports and around 55% of Palestinian exports. Business people within the West Bank are eager to diversify the number and location of their trading partners.

  • In 2018, imports from the United States, both direct and indirect, were estimated by the U.S. Commercial Service at $800 million.

  • The information technology sector is a growing area of the Palestinian market, as are cellular and landline telephone services. Palestinian stone and marble exports have remained strong, in particular to the United States. The handicraft market has begun to expand into export markets for a range of products.

  • International donor investment in basic and social infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza will continue to present opportunities for U.S. contractors despite recent declines in overall investment. Between 1994 and 2017, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided more than $5.5 billion in economic assistance to Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. However, USAID programs were halted in 2018.

Top five reasons why U.S. Companies should consider exporting to the West Bank and Gaza:

  1. Duty free treatment for American imports

  2. Market relies on importing 90% of its needs

  3. American products are perceived to be of high quality

  4. Small but growing market population growing at an estimated at 3% per year

  5. Ease of getting paid through an efficient banking sector