U.S. diplomatic missions overseas are committed to supporting U.S. companies as they begin to export or increase existing exports abroad. You will find here a summary of the Palestinian market as an export destination and some suggestions for getting started.
- Read the U.S. Department of State’s latest Investment Climate Statement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Visit the U.S. Department of Commerce’s gov page and the BuyUSA website to get an overview of economic conditions and opportunities. Access the U.S. Commercial Service Market Research Library containing more than 100,000 industry and country-specific market reports, authored by our specialists working in overseas posts.
- Contact your local U.S. Export Assistance Center for advice and support on exporting to the West Bank and Gaza. Contact a Trade Specialist near you.
- Contact business support organizations in your target market, such as the Palestinian American Chamber of Commerce and the Palestinian Trade Center (PalTrade), and the Palestinian Shippers’ Council.
- Make use of business matchmaking services available through the U.S. Foreign Commercial Service.
- Contact your local Small Business Development Center. Starting a business can be a challenge, but there is help for you in your area. Small Business Development Carriers are partnerships primarily between the government and colleges/universities administered by the Small Business Administration and aims at giving educational services for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Investing in the West Bank
The West Bank’s investment climate has improved significantly since 2007 thanks to security, economic and legal reforms, international donor support, and the easing of some Government of Israel (GOI) restrictions. Many of these reforms, however, were only applicable to business concerns in the roughly 40 percent of the West Bank under the civil control of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Restrictions on the movement and access of goods and people between the West Bank, Gaza, and external markets imposed by the GOI continue to have a deleterious effect on the private sector and limit economic growth.
Significant sectors highlighted by the Palestinian Investment Promotion Agency (PIPA) and in the National Export Strategy for 2014-2018 include stone and marble, tourism, agriculture (including olive oil, fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs), food and beverage, textiles and garments, manufacturing (including furniture and pharmaceuticals), and information and communication technology (ICT).
Private sector opportunities are more constrained in Gaza due to the de facto rule of Hamas, which has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO), combined with GOI restrictions on many imports and most exports. Numerous consumer goods enter Gaza through Israel, but there are restrictions in place that limit the import of a number of dual-use items, including construction materials, which are only allowed to enter with advance coordination and approval from Israel via the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism (GRM).
The United States Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development and other assistance agencies, has worked closely with the PA to improve the investment climate and trade regime through legislative reforms, improved regulations, and capacity building.
For more information, please refer to the following websites:
- Department of State, “Investment Climate Statement” (http://www.state.gov/e/eb/rls/othr/ics/)
- The World Bank, “Doing Business” (http://www.doingbusiness.org)
Potential and Current investors: Staying Connected
If you are considering investment in the West Bank or already are working in the West Bank, here are some steps you may wish to consider as you get started and to stay connected:
- Let us know– If you are planning a visit to consider investment, let us know by sending an email to the contact addresses on this page. The Economic Section and Foreign Commercial Service can offer briefings on the Palestinian economy to interested investors.
- Visit Palestinian Authority resources on investment incentives and commercial legislation, such as the Palestine Investment Promotion Agency, Palestinian Trade Center(PalTrade), and the Palestinian Shippers’ Council.
- Contact regional Chambers of Commerce in the West Bank and the Palestinian Ministry of National Economy
- Contact local business support organizations, such as the Palestinian American Chamber of Commerce and the Palestinian Trade Center
- Subscribe to our Palestinian Affairs Unit social media properties or those of the US Embassy Jerusalem.
- Set up a meeting with our economic or commercial team
For information on entry and exit procedures for Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, visit this website.
Most business visitors enter the West Bank through the Allenby Bridge/King Hussein Crossing between the West Bank and Jordan or through Ben Gurion Tel Aviv International Airport. The Government of Israel controls entry and exit through both, as well as the crossing points located between Israel and the West Bank. The Gaza Strip has one crossing point with Israel (Erez) and one crossing point with Egypt (Rafah). Entry and exit requirements change frequently. Travelers who enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing from Egypt must also exit through the Rafah crossing. The Israeli authorities do not permit such travelers to exit through the Erez crossing into Israel except in situations of extreme humanitarian need. A no-charge, three-month Israeli tourist visa may be issued upon arrival and may be renewed, and foreign nationals wishing to invest in the West Bank can apply for a longer term investment visas from the Government of Israel. Additional information is available on the Israeli Ministry of Defense’s Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories website (PDF – 72KB). Information on business visas to Israel can be found at this website.
Make sure to check the current State Department travel advisory for the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is an important anti-corruption tool designed to discourage corrupt business practices in favor of free and fair markets. The FCPA prohibits promising, offering, giving, or authorizing giving anything of value to a foreign government official where the purpose is to obtain or retain business. These prohibitions apply to U.S. persons, both individuals and companies, and companies that are listed on U.S. exchanges. The statute also requires companies publicly traded in the U.S. to keep accurate books and records and implement appropriate internal controls.
More information on the FCPA can be found here (PDF-3.11MB).
A party to a transaction seeking to know whether a proposed course of conduct would violate the FCPA can take advantage of the opinion procedure established by the statue. Within 30 days of receiving a description of a proposed course of conduct in writing, the U.S. Attorney General’s office will provide the party with a written opinion on whether the proposed conduct would violate the FCPA. Not only do opinions provide the requesting party with a rebuttable presumption that the conduct does not violate the FCPA, but DOJ publishes past opinions which can provide guidance for other companies facing similar situations.