January 2015


The Portland Trust celebrates the 100th issue of the Palestinian Economic Bulletin

The Portland Trust, in collaboration with the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS), published the first edition of the ‘Palestinian Economic Bulletin’ in October 2006. In the intervening years we have sought to provide accurate insights into the Palestinian economy to our local and global readership. This month I am proud to introduce our 100th issue.

I would like to express gratitude to all those who have contributed to the Bulletin over the years. In particular, I would like to thank our partners at MAS for their work and support each month. Without them the Bulletin would not be possible. At the same time, it would be remiss not to acknowledge our readers, not just for reading the Bulletin each month but also for their constructive feedback.

As I write, we are at a time of political uncertainty and economic slowdown following the collapse of the peace negotiations in April 2014 and the war in Gaza last summer. Preliminary estimates indicate that the Palestinian economy shrunk by 2.5% in 2014, with the war intensifying a declining trend observed since 2012 after five years of economic improvement previously. GDP per capita has only increased marginally over the last two decades and is estimated to have fallen by 5.5% in 2014. In Gaza, GDP per capita has declined by 33% since 1994. Total unemployment is estimated at 27%, with unemployment rates of youth aged 20-24 in the West Bank and Gaza of 27.5% and 68.3%, respectively.

The Portland Trust continues to believe that a vibrant private sector-led economy is crucial for sustainable growth and job creation, as well as for peace in the region to take hold. During 2014 we have, therefore, sustained our efforts to support the development of Palestinian businesses through the implementation of ‘Beyond Aid’, an economic initiative by the Palestinian private sector which envisages the creation of almost 400,000 jobs by 2030.1

However, it must be acknowledged that any private sector development efforts will be seriously constrained without an improvement to the enabling environment and, in particular, political progress leading to the creation of a thriving Palestinian state. It is therefore absolutely crucial that all concerned parties work together towards achieving a definitive political settlement alongside the creation of a thriving economy, which, in turn, will reinforce meaningful peace efforts.

We hope that the Palestinian Economic Bulletin will continue to inform the public debate and inspire business, policy makers and international organisations to direct their efforts towards the creation of a sustainable economy.

Sir Ronald Cohen Chairman, The Portland Trust