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Source: United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO)
30 November 2008

Since 1996 UNSCO has continually monitored and reported on socio-economic conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory and in the process established an extensive socio-economic database. UNSCO does not create raw data but rather uses available data which, in the occupied Palestinian territory is relatively abundant. However, the data that is available tends to remain dispersed and is not always automatically shared between institutions. The objective of the database is to bring together in one place a wide variety of data on socio-economic conditions and by doing so present a broader, more detailed perspective on socio-economic conditions. The purpose of this report is to: 1) broaden the access to this database through publication of the most recent data gathered; and 2) provide readers with up to date information on socio-economic conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The report is divided into three sections:

Section 1 consists of a one-page fact sheet which provides a snapshot view of the socioeconomic situation of the current and previous reporting period and for reference purposes provides base line figures for the period just prior to the outbreak of the second Intifada.

Section 2 and 3 report on the Macro-economic and the Private sector and banking modules of the UNSCO database. They provide data on the last six reporting periods for each indicator as well as base line data. In addition, some initial analysis on observed trends is given below each table.

1 For a more detailed report on sections C (Macro-economy) and D (Private sector), see data below.
2 CPI Base year 2004 = 100
3 MoNE data does not include aggregates or aid flows in Aug 2000.
4 * Please note that data for Q2-2008 has been adjusted by the PMA for all bank credit categories.
5 Adjusted unemployment is calculated by adding discouraged workers (i.e. unemployed but no longer seeking work) to the ILO standard.
6 Effective closure days are calculated by adding all days when a crossing was fully or partially closed excluding weekend and holidays.

For further information please contact: Ramallah: Bushra Mukbil; Gaza Strip: Raed Raqeb

The exchange rate between the US dollar and the NIS has increased in November, 2008. Generally, due to the global financial crisis, foreign currency markets showed weak exchange rates against the dollar.

Volume of registered fuel sales in the Gaza Strip markedly dropped in November 2008, if compared to October 2008. Closures of Gaza border crossings and Egyptian fuel reportedly being smuggled through tunnels likely contributed to the drop.

The Palestinian CPI figures declined by 0.84% in the oPt in November 2008. The CPI for the West Bank decreased, by 0.99 percent and by 1.05 for the Gaza Strip. Minor declines were recorded in November 2008 for the oPt in the Food & Soft drinks, Textiles, Clothing and Footwear, housing, as well as Transportation groups.

Truck movement to Gaza has been restricted to humanitarian supplies since 12 June 2007. Exports were stopped altogether at the same time except for limited agricultural exports. November 2008 data indicates a significant decline in the total of imported truckloads to the Gaza Strip, by
approximately 79%, when compared to October. No cement or gravel was allowed in, and only 100 trucks of wheat and 109 trucks of animal feed were imported through Karni.

For further information please contact: Ramallah: Bushra Mukbil; Gaza Strip: Raed Raqeb

The number of new company registration is used as a proxy indicator for the vitality of the local economy as well as the ability of the local economy to create new employment. New company registrations in the West Bank slightly rose in November 2008, by 2%. However, if compared to pre- Intifada levels, new company registrations have dropped by approximately 53%. As for Gaza, figures from the Ministry of Economy in Ramallah show that the number of new company registrations has remained at zero, while data from the authorities in Gaza indicate 20 new registered companies for October 2008.

Similar to new company registrations, the area licensed for new construction is also used as a proxy indicator for economic vitality. If compared with October 2008, areas licensed for new construction for the West Bank increased in November by approximately 20%. However, if compared with pre- Intifada levels, areas licensed for new constructions have dropped by approximately 45% for the West Bank. As for the Gaza Strip, data is not available due to recent events.

If disaggregated by type, and if compared with Q2-2008, it appears that in Q3-2008 non-residential and residential construction increased in the oPt by 38% and 16.7%, respectively. It is worth noting that there is no data available for Gaza due to the closing of the PCBS office in Gaza.

Data on bank credit is used as a proxy indicator of economic progress (increasing use of bank credit, particularly in the main productive sectors) or decline (decreasing use of bank credit). The Palestine Monetary Authority provides adjusted data once every three months. In relative terms, general trade and Real Estate and Lands show an increase in the use of credit. Bank credit to the public sector also indicates an increase of approximately 6.2% in Q3-2008 when compared with Q2-2008. (Please note the PMA has adjusted the indicators for bank credit by economic activities starting Q1-2008. Due to such significant changes, current trends cannot be compared to those prior to 2008.)

Disaggregating bank credit by the type of credit, the data shows an increase in both loans and bank overdrafts. Loans currently represent 61.4 percent of all credit extended compared to only 41% in the pre-Intifada period.

Disaggregating bank credit by borrowing entities shows that consumer lending has increased in the third quarter of 2008. Compared to pre-intifada levels, consumer borrowing has slightly decreased, by 5%.

Bank deposits for the third quarter in 2008 indicate an increase in both private and public sector deposits. Compared with the second quarter of 2008, total bank deposits in the third quarter of 2008 have increased by 4.66 percent.

In a functioning economy, an increase in the loans versus deposits ratio is perceived as a positive sign, as monies are not saved but invested or consumed, each of which is a stimulant for the economy. Since September 2006, this ratio has steadily declined in the oPt signaling little optimism
in the prospects of the Palestinian economy, which limits appetite for domestic investment and thus increases deposits. The sharp drop in the second and third quarters signals heightened concern with regard to overall economic performance.

Similar to bank credit and deposits, data on the Palestinian stock exchange is used as a proxy indicator of Palestinian perceptions vis-à-vis the state of the national economy. Data for November 2008 shows a decrease in trade at the stock exchange in terms of value and an increase in terms of number volume of stocks traded. Though the Palestinian market has not significantly been affected by the global financial crisis, it wasn’t immune to the crisis in November, and the Al-Quds index decreased by approximately 25.4% in November.

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