Economic growth in the occupied Palestinian territory has been hindered by the imposed segmentation and separation of various Palestinian communities from each other. Donor money, which accounts for approximately 60 per cent of the GDP, is still not enough to pay for the trade deficit with Israel, highlighted today Mahmoud Elkhafif, Coordinator, Assistance to the Palestinian People Unit, UNCTAD.
Mr. Elkhafif spoke at a panel discussion that focused on the need to expand the policy space of Palestinian economic policy making in order to promote growth and build productive capacities. The discussion, titled “Sustaining the Palestinian economy under occupation - The role of Arab cooperation,” took place just before the 21 April opening of the UNCTAD XIII conference.
The Palestinian economy, operating at much below its potential, is in danger of losing its “productive base” – that is, its ability to expand domestic production. With this in view, promoting Palestinian goods in Arab countries is of crucial importance, Mr. Elkhafif stressed.
This initiative should amount to a comprehensive trade reorientation effort, aimed at assisting the Palestinian people in achieving their aspirations.
Mr. Taher Kannan, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Jordan, and Ms. Samia Al-Botmeh, of Birzeit University, echoed Mr. Elkhafif’s remarks, calling for concerted Arab action on the issue. They stressed the importance of setting right national priorities in this regard, thereby showing solidarity with the Palestinian people.
The panel also included Hazem Shunnar, the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Ministry of National Economy of the Palestinian Authority, Moderator Nada Al-Nashif, the ILO Regional Director for Arab States, a power point presentation prepared by Kamel Husseini, the co-founder under and managing Partner of Ellam Tam PR Company, with his findings presented by Randa Jamal, Economic Affairs Officer of UNCTAD, and Ziad Abdel-Samad, Director of the Arab NGO Network for Development