Wider trade openness in the Gaza Strip with Egypt

Wider trade openness in the Gaza Strip with Egypt
Wider trade openness in the Gaza Strip with Egypt
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Goods to Gaza through the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing with the occupied territories (Abdul Hakim Abu Riash)

The commercial reality in the Gaza Strip reflects the willingness of government agencies run by the “Hamas” movement to open trade with Egypt, by encouraging imports from it, through the Salah al-Din gate located in the south of the Strip, in exchange for reducing imports from the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing linked to the Israeli occupation.

Government agencies in Gaza estimate the volume of imports from Egypt in recent months at about 40% of total imports, compared to 17% years ago, in addition to an improvement in exports through commercial crossings, to reach 48%, compared to 42% in previous years.

The government agencies in Gaza estimate the volume of imports from Egypt during the recent months at about 40% of the total imports

This increase in exports and imports comes within the facilities that were provided in the aftermath of the Israeli aggression on Gaza in 2021, with the aim of alleviating the severity of the occupation blockade imposed since 2006, which negatively affects government revenues, and reduces the volume of salaries paid to more than 40,000 employees affiliated with the government that It is run by Hamas.

In the wake of these facilitations, the Palestinian trend in Gaza began to import construction materials, such as cement, iron, and food commodities of all kinds, in addition to cooking gas and fuel of all kinds from the Egyptian side, while reducing the quantities imported from the occupation.

Despite the Palestinian openness to trade with Egypt, many commodities are still included in the “ban lists”, as the Israeli occupation prohibits their entry into the Strip, alleging fear that the Palestinian resistance will use them in the process of developing its military and missile capabilities, and sets conditions in its security understandings with Egypt in this regard.

In parallel, the Israeli authorities place several conditions on the process of exporting Palestinian goods and products from the Strip, which makes the movement of exports limited, despite the rise in 2022 compared to previous years.
In the context, the Director General of the Gaza Chamber of Commerce, Maher Al-Tabbaa, says that the year 2022 witnessed an increase of 90% in the volume of imports to Gaza through the Egyptian side, while the volume of imports through the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing decreased by 5%, adding that exports from the Strip increased by 30%. % over the past year.
According to Al-Tabbaa’s statement to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, the volume of imports through Salah Al-Din Gate reached about 38,000 trucks during 2022, compared to 21,000 trucks during 2021, and about 15,000 trucks during 2020.

Director General of the Gaza Chamber of Commerce, Maher Al-Tabbaa: The year 2022 witnessed a 90% increase in the volume of imports to Gaza via the Egyptian side

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He added that the number of trucks exported from the Gaza Strip abroad amounted to about 5,770 trucks to the West Bank markets, the Israeli markets, and abroad, compared to about 4,055 trucks in 2021, about 3,175 trucks in 2020, about 3,145 trucks in 2019, and about 2,600 trucks in 2018. Exports from Gaza during the past year increased by 30% compared to the previous year.

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During the year 2022, the occupation provided a limited number of economic facilities, represented in allowing the export of some foodstuffs and industrial products produced in Gaza, in addition to introducing some materials called “dual use”, such as optical fibers used in the manufacture of fishermen’s boats.

The director of the Gaza Chamber of Commerce points out that the total number of trucks exported outside Palestine during the year 2022 amounted to about 72 trucks, while to the West Bank it was 3315 trucks, while it reached 2383 trucks to Israel, which reflects that the main market for the sector’s products is the West Bank markets.

Despite the rise in imports to the sector via the Egyptian side, the government agencies run by the “Hamas” movement confirm that the volume of tax revenues imposed is very limited, in order to ensure the continued flow of goods and encourage merchants to import from Egypt.

Osama Nofal, a researcher and specialist in economic affairs, says that the total imports to the Strip from the various border crossings of the Strip amounted to 117,641, a percentage of 32.5% of the total trucks that arrived in Gaza during the past year.
In his interview with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, Nofal explains that the tangible increase in trade with Egypt is due to the easy access of goods to the Strip in terms of the time period that does not exceed a week, in addition to the clear financial differences with the goods coming through the Israeli side.

Despite the Palestinian openness to trade with Egypt, many commodities are still on the “ban lists”, as the Israeli occupation prohibits their entry into the Strip.

He adds that building materials such as cement and iron, and foodstuffs such as flour, legumes and oils, are accepted by merchants in the Strip at the expense of importing them from the occupation due to the price difference and the speed of their flow to the markets.

According to Nofal, what the government agencies in Gaza receive is considered simple amounts of money, as the amount of money collected for a ton of cement does not exceed 20 Israeli shekels only, in addition to the limited amounts being collected for the rest of the commodities. (One dollar = 3.53 Israeli shekels).

The researcher and specialist in economic affairs believes that Palestinian imports from Egypt will be enhanced during the year 2023 in light of the commercial openness taking place, and the encouragement of government agencies in the sector for this, in addition to the financial and time difference in the arrival of goods when compared to the Kerem Shalom crossing.

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