(MENAFN Editorial) The State of Palestine's first-ever National Export Strategy (NES) was today unveiled at a ceremony in Ramallah by Palestinian Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah, Palestine Trade Centre (PalTrade) Chairman Mr. Ibrahim Barham, International Trade Centre (ITC) Executive Director Ms. Arancha GonzÃ¡lez, and Mr. John Gatt-Rutter, European Union Representative.
A five-year roadmap for increasing Palestinian exports, the Strategy seeks to drive socio-economic development and better integrate Palestine into the global economy. The NES sets out specific interventions to increase the competitiveness of nine key export sectors and subsectors. In addition it provides guidance on improving the business environment to realize the vision articulated by the strategy's authors: Export-led Prosperity, Made in Palestine.
'This first Palestinian export strategy is the culmination of a national effort,' said Dr. Hamdallah. 'The implementation of the Palestinian export strategy is expected to lead to an overall growth in export sectors over the next five years by 67% with an annual growth rate of 13%. This will lead to enhanced Palestinian access to raw materials, a reduced trade deficit and reduced dependence on the Israeli market as the main
destination for Palestinian exports,' he said.
To extend trade for new products and markets â€“ and to boost employment generation â€“ the NES presents detailed action plans for the following priority sectors and subsectors: agro-processed meat; footwear and leather; fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs; furniture; information and communications technology (ICT); olive oil; stone and marble; textiles and garments; and tourism.
For the private sector to fully participate in this transformation of the Palestinian economy, the NES includes cross-sector strategies to tackle constraints in the business environment. In particular it highlights the need for better access to finance, improved quality management and trade information, and enhanced trade facilitation.
'By launching this National Export Strategy, Palestinian businesses, policymakers and international partners now have a tool to better use trade as a platform for growth and place SME development at the heart of the future economic roadmap. The strategy identifies sectors, through which Palestine can strengthen its competitiveness, leading to greater economic independence and better livelihoods for the Palestinian people,' said Ms. GonzÃ¡lez.
The NES was formally endorsed by the Cabinet of the State of Palestine in September 2014. The decision also established the Palestinian Export Council (PEC), a public-private platform set up to manage and monitor the implementation of the NES. Under the leadership of the Minister of National Economy and PalTrade, the PEC, in close collaboration with partners and donors, will ensure that actions identified in the Strategy are efficiently implemented.
'The strategy itself sets out the framework for increasing Palestinian exports through the implementation of a detailed package of measures that need to be applied by the Palestinian Authority across promising sectors,' said Mr. Gatt-Rutter.
Mr. Barham said: 'The effective contribution of the NES to trade development will largely depend on the ability of the State of Palestine to plan, mobilize resources, coordinate projects, and monitor their implementation by a concerted effort of public and private stakeholders.'
'It will be therefore essential that bilateral and multilateral aid for trade donors align their interventions to Palestine's needs and priorities set forth in the NES,' Mr. Barham said.
The National Export Strategy was designed under the leadership of the Ministry of National Economy and the management of PalTrade, with technical assistance and guidance from ITC. The EU provided financial support for the design of the NES under its Trade Diversification and Competitiveness Enhancement Programme.
The NES is part of the needs-assessment services provided by ITC and PalTrade, which have also finalized a survey on non-tariff measures (NTMs) encountered by Palestinian small and medium-sized enterprises engaged in export trade. While over 60% of hurdles to trade stem from outside Palestine, many key measures facilitating trade and promoting exports can be addressed internally. The NES incorporates key findings of the NTM survey and points to the wide scope for reforms to improve the business environment.
ITC is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the Millennium Development Goals. ITC is part of the United Nations Inter-Agency Cluster on Trade and Productive Capacity and the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), cooperates with the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) and is a member of the Palestine Trade Sector Working Group.
The Palestine Trade Centre (PalTrade) provides a wide range of export support services in the areas of export development and market intelligence, export promotion, and export policy and advocacy. Established in 1998, PalTrade is a non-profit, membership based organization with a national mandate to lead the development of exports as a driving force for sustainable economic growth.