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Cablegate: 2010 Investment Climate Statement for the West

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UNCLAS JERUSALEM 000148

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STATE FOR EEB/IFD/OIA AND NEA/IPA; PASS OPIC, TDA, AND USTR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EINV EFIN ETRD ELAB KTDB PGOV USTR OPIC KWBG
KPAL, IS
SUBJECT: 2010 INVESTMENT CLIMATE STATEMENT FOR THE WEST
BANK AND GAZA

REF: 09 STATE 124006

A.1 OVERVIEW OF FOREIGN INVESTMENT CLIMATE

The Palestinian private sector is talented and
entrepreneurial, yet faces numerous obstacles to reaching its
full potential. Palestinian businesses have a reputation for
a high-level of professionalism and product quality, and
large Palestinian enterprises are internationally connected,
with partnerships extending to Asia, Europe, the Gulf, and
the Americas. However, political instability resulting from
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, restrictions on the
movement and access of goods and people within the West Bank
and between the West Bank and Israel and Jordan, and import
and export restrictions imposed by the Government of Israel
(GOI) continue have a deleterious effect on the private
sector and limit economic growth. The de facto rule in Gaza
of Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO),
combined with GOI restrictions on imports and exports,
severely constrains private sector opportunities in Gaza.

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There have been some notable improvements in the West Bank's
economic outlook over the past two years, driven primarily by
improved security, economic reforms implemented under
Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and
international donor support that has enabled the PA to pay
salaries and arrears. Additionally, the GOI eased
restrictions on the movement and access of people and goods
within the West Bank over the past year and allowed Arab
Israelis to enter and shop in a greater number of cities in
the West Bank. Foreign investment has increased
substantially over the last several years and the IMF
predicts baseline growth of 6.5% in 2010 and 7.5% in 2011,
although this scenario is dependent on continued easing of
movement and access restrictions and the facilitation of
external trade.

Palestinians have a young population, and the work force in
the West Bank/Gaza is expected to expand significantly over
the next several decades. Much of this labor force is highly
educated, multilingual, and well-versed in the technologies
and practices conducive to doing business on a global level.
The services sector is the largest contributor to the economy
(largely driven by government expansion), representing 55% of
GDP, according to 2008 statistics. The information and
communications technology sector is one of the fastest
growing sectors in the Palestinian Territories, with an
average growth rate of 25-30% since 2000, according to PA
statistics. With a growing number of high tech-focused
college graduates, one of the highest Internet penetration
rates in the Middle East, and competitive salaries, software
development, and outsourcing are considered attractive
sectors for potential investors.

Since June 2007, the PA has demonstrated a renewed
determination to improve the investment climate and to
attract foreign investment. The PA undertook a number of
significant reforms and prepared the 2008-2010 Palestinian
Development and Reform Plan (PDRP) in December 2007, a set of
broad economic policies that focus on stimulating growth
through private sector investment and consolidating public
finances. Fayyad then expanded on the PDRP through his
two-year plan for statehood in August 2009, which also
emphasized the role of the private sector and the importance
of an enabling investment environment. A revised multi-year
reform and development framework for 2011-2013 is in draft
form as of January 2010 and is expected to focus on the same
themes. The PA has also focused on legal reforms as a means
of improving the investment environment, and is currently
drafting a new competition law, a trademark/copyright law, a
company law, a bankruptcy law, and various amendments to the
investment law.

Since 1995, the PA has taken steps to facilitate and increase
foreign trade by signing free trade agreements with the
European Union, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA),
the United States, Canada, and Turkey. The PA has finalized
other trade agreements with Russia, Jordan, Egypt, the Gulf
States, Morocco, and Tunisia. The PA has also expressed
interest in obtaining observer status in the World Trade
Organization (WTO), and participated in the 2005 and 2009 WTO
Ministerial meetings as an ad hoc observer. In 2008, the PA

hosted a successful investment conference in Bethlehem, and
subsequently participated in numerous follow-up trade and
investment promotion events, including in London, Tokyo, and
Washington, D.C.

Measure Year Index/Ranking
TI Corruption Index N/A
Heritage Economic Freedom N/A
World Bank Doing Business Index 2010 139/183
MCC Rankings N/A

This report focuses on investment issues related to areas
under the administrative jurisdiction of the PA, except where
explicitly stated. Given the changing circumstances on the
ground, potential investors are encouraged to contact the
Palestinian Investment Promotion Agency (www.pipa.gov.ps),
the Palestine Trade Center (www.paltrade.org), and the
Palestinian-American Chamber of Commerce (www.pal-am.com), as
well as the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem and the
Foreign Commercial Service for the latest information.

Where applicable, this report addresses issues related to
investment in the Gaza Strip, although there are currently no
opportunities for meaningful private investment in Gaza due
to Hamas's control and Israeli restrictions on the flow of
imports and exports, as of the time of this writing.

The legal framework for foreign investment in the West
Bank/Gaza is based on the PA Investment Promotion Law, as
amended in 1998. All business entities must be registered
with the Palestinian Investment Promotion Agency's registry
of investments either in the West Bank or Gaza. According to
existing PA company laws, there are three different types of
companies which may be incorporated:

- General Partnership: The liability of each partner in a
general partnership is unlimited. All partners are
personally responsible for the liabilities of the
partnership. The name of at least one of the partners must be
included in the title of the General Partnership.

- Limited Partnership: This includes two different types of
partners: general and limited. A limited partnership must
have at least one general partner who is personally
responsible for the liabilities of the company. There is also
at least one limited partner whose liability is limited to
the amount of the capital.

- Local Companies (Limited Liability Company (LLC) and Public
Liability): Most investors prefer to use LLCs for the
purposes of conducting commercial affairs. The procedures
that have to be followed to register this form of company are
as follows:

1. Obtain temporary copy of certificate of registration from
the Ministry.
2. Deposit initial capital, which is 25 percent of the
capital plus official bank fees (1/1000 of stated capital).
3. Obtain signature of the required documents by a local
lawyer.
4. Register with the commercial Registry.
5. Pay registration fee.
6. Register for income and VAT.
7. Register with Chamber of Commerce.
8. Obtain business license from the Municipality.
9. Obtain and legalize special company books.

Certain investment categories require the Council of
Ministers' pre-approval. These include investments involving
(1) weapons and ammunition, (2) aviation products and airport
construction, (3) electrical power generation/distribution,
(4) reprocessing of petroleum and its derivatives, (5) waste
and solid waste reprocessing, (6) wired and wireless
telecommunication, and (7) radio and television. Purchase of
land by foreigners also requires the approval of the Council
of Ministers.

A.2 CONVERSION AND TRANSFER POLICIES

The 1998 Investment Law guarantees investors the free
transfer of all financial resources out of the Palestinian
Territories, including capital, profits, dividends, wages,

salaries, and interest and principal payments on debts. No
Palestinian currency exists, but the New Israeli Shekel (NIS)
is the accepted currency, and U.S. dollars and Jordanian
dinars (JD) are widely used in business transactions. There
are no other PA restrictions governing foreign currency
accounts and currency transfer policies.

A.3 EXPROPRIATION AND COMPENSATION

The 1998 Investment Law prohibits expropriation and
nationalization of approved foreign investments, except in
exceptional cases for a public purpose with due process of
law, which shall be in return for fair compensation based on
market prices and for losses suffered because of such
expropriation. The PA must secure a court decision before
proceeding with expropriation.

PA sources and independent lawyers say that any Palestinian
citizen can file a petition or a lawsuit against the PA.
There are on-going court cases involving illegal confiscation
of property by senior PA officials; however, there has been
no ruling on many of these cases. A general lack of
confidence in the judicial system has prompted citizens to
look for alternative means of arbitration to resolve such
disputes, though this situation is slowly improving.

A.4 DISPUTE SETTLEMENT

The 1998 Investment Law provides for dispute resolution
between the investor and official agencies by binding
independent arbitration or in Palestinian courts. It has
been reported that some contracts contain clauses referring
dispute resolutions to the London Court of Arbitration.

The PA is not a member of the Convention on the Settlement of
Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other
States (ICSID Convention).

Commercial disputes are resolved by way of conciliation,
mediation, or arbitration. Arbitration in the Palestinian
Territories is governed by Law No. (3) of 2000.
International arbitration is permitted. The law sets out the
basis for court recognition and enforcement of awards. As a
general rule, every dispute may be referred to arbitration by
the agreement of the parties, unless prohibited by the law.
Article 4 of the law states that certain disputes cannot be
referred to arbitration, including those involving marital
status, public order issues, and cases where no conciliation
is permitted. In the event that parties do not agree on the
formation of the arbitration panel, each party may choose an
arbitrator and arbitrators shall choose a casting arbitrator
unless the parties agree to proceed otherwise.

Judgments made in other countries that need to be enforced in
the West Bank/Gaza are honored, according to the prevailing
law in the West Bank, mainly Jordanian Law No 8 of 1952. The
law covers many issues in relation to the enforcement of
foreign judgments.

A.5 PERFORMANCE REQUIREMENTS AND INCENTIVES

The 1998 Investment Law provides a number of incentives,
including exemptions from value added and income taxes, for
certain categories of PA-approved domestic and foreign
investment. An amendment currently awaiting the PA
President's signature would extend these incentives to new
development on existing projects and, in an effort to attract
business in the information and communication technology
sector, all companies that employ at least five college
graduates. To benefit from these incentives, investors must
apply to the Palestinian Investment Promotion Agency (PIPA),
a department of the PA Ministry of National Economy, and
present it with a completed investment application and
feasibility study. PIPA is composed of both public and
private sector members. As of January 2010, PIPA has
announced efforts to increase incentives to foreign
investors, though the details and timing of implementation
were not known at the time of writing.

The PA income tax law is intended to incorporate both West
Bank and Gaza. The corporate tax rate is 15 percent.
Personal income tax is specified according to the following

(though additional factors such as dependents and exemptions
affect the base rate):

- 5 percent for income up to NIS 10,000;
- 10 percent for income between NIS 10,001 - 25,000; and
- 15 percent for all incomes above NIS 25,001.

Custom duties - The Palestinian Territories are in the same
customs envelope as Israel, so all customs and tariffs are in
line with Israeli rates:
Base: On the value of imports.
Rates: From zero to 340 percent for food, animal and
agriculture products; and zero to 22 percent for all other
products.

Purchase tax:
Base: Value of imports plus customs fees.
Rates: five to 200 percent.

Value added tax:
Base: all imported goods.
Rates: 16 percent.

A 20 percent tax is withheld at source from dividends
distributed in the West Bank/Gaza to shareholders of a
foreign company. There are no taxes due on dividends
distributed to shareholders of Palestinian companies
regardless of where they live or their nationality, and
regardless of whether they are an individual or a company.
An automatic deduction at the source of 25 percent is
withheld from companies, unless they obtain a "Deduction at
the Source Certificate," which grants a reduced rate that
ranges between zero and five percent. Applications for these
certificates are available from PA district tax offices.

Article 22 of the PA investment law provides that fixed
assets are given the following exemptions:

a. The project's fixed assets shall be exempted from customs
duties and taxes provided that they are brought in within a
period specified by the Authority's decision approving the
lists of fixed assets of the project.

b. The spare parts imported for the project shall be exempted
from customs duties and taxes, provided that the value of
such spare parts does not exceed 15 percent of the value of
the fixed assets and that they are brought in or used in the
project within a period specified by the Authority.

Article 23 of the law provides that the projects approved by
the PA and which have obtained the licenses required under
the law shall be granted the incentives mentioned in this law
in the following manner:

a. Any investment with a value ranging from USD 100,000 to
USD one million shall be granted an exemption from income tax
for a period of five years beginning from the date of
commencement of production or commencement of activity and
shall be subject to income tax on the net profit at a nominal
rate of 10 percent for an additional period of eight years.

b. Any investment with a value from USD one million to USD
five million shall be granted an exemption from income tax
for a period of five years beginning from the date of
commencement of production or activity and shall be subject
to income tax on the net profit at a nominal rate of 10
percent for an additional period of 12 years. Any investment
with value of USD five million and above shall be granted an
exemption from income tax for a period of five years
beginning from the date of commencement of production or
activity and shall be subject to income tax on the net profit
at a nominal rate of 10 percent for an additional period of
16 years.

Article 24 of the Law provides that the Palestinian Council
of Ministers may extend the exemption periods up to five
years, depending on the nature and location of the
enterprise. The exemption period may be extended an
additional two years if the local input in equipment,
machines, and fixtures exceeds 60%.

While the PA does not require foreign nationals working in

the West Bank to seek work permits, the GOI does require
foreigners to obtain Israeli visas. According to the GOI,
foreign nationals should either apply to Israeli Embassies in
their country of origin, or through the Israeli Coordinator
of Government Affairs in the Territories (COGAT) after their
arrival in the West Bank. Recently, there have been cases of
foreign nationals working in the West Bank who have been
prohibited from traveling to Israel and Jerusalem from the
West Bank because of their ties to the Palestinian
Territories.

A.6 RIGHT TO PRIVATE OWNERSHIP AND ESTABLISHMENT

Jordanian law in the West Bank, as amended by PA regulations,
guarantees the right to private ownership. Similarly, the
right to private ownership in Gaza is guaranteed by British
Mandate law, as amended by regulations issued by the PA.
Foreigners must obtain permission from the PA before
purchasing property in areas under PA civil authority and
from the appropriate Israeli authorities before purchasing
property in West Bank areas under Israeli control ("Area C").
PIPA outlines the following concerning foreign ownership of
property:

The Acquisition Law in the West Bank, which regulates foreign
acquisition and the rental or lease of immovable properties,
classifies foreigners into three categories:

-- Foreigners who formerly possessed Palestinian or Jordanian
passports shall have the right to own certain properties
sufficient to erect buildings and/or for their agricultural
projects.

-- Foreigners who hold other Arab nationality passports have
the right to own certain property that suffices for their
living and business needs only.

-- Other foreigners must receive permission from the PA
Cabinet to own buildings or purchase land.

It is critical that potential purchasers of land or buildings
perform a title search to be assured that no outstanding
violations or unpaid penalties exist on the property. Under
current law, violations and penalties are transferred to the
new owner.

Accurate title search can only be obtained from the PA Land
Authority (al-Taboh). Land registration is done through the
Land Registries in Hebron, Ramallah, Qalqilya, Tulkarem,
Nablus, Bethlehem, Jericho, Jenin, and Gaza City. In order
to purchase land in the West Bank or Gaza, an application
that includes supporting documents, such as deeds to the
property and powers of attorney, should be submitted to the
land registry office having jurisdiction over the land.

A.7 PROTECTION OF PROPERTY RIGHTS

The West Bank and Gaza do not have a modern intellectual
property rights (IPR) regime in place. The PA was indirectly
committed to the GATT-TRIPS agreement when it signed the
Interim Agreement on West Bank/Gaza according to Annex III
(Protocol Concerning Civil Affairs), Appendix 1, Article 23.
All IPR legislation originates from British Mandate Law
regardless of the change in control over the years. Pre-1967
era Jordanian laws concerning trademarks, patents, and
designs are applicable in the West Bank. In Gaza, the
Palestinian Trademark and Patent Laws of 1938, adopted during
the British Mandate, are applicable. Registration under the
two laws is very similar, and, despite different authorizing
legislation, there are few substantive differences between
IPR laws in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. According to PA
contacts, the PA is working on a modern law that will
encompass intellectual property rights, including copyright,
patents and designs, trademarks, and merchandise branding.

Currently, intellectual property is governed by the Civil
Claims Law of 1933 in Gaza, and the Commercial Law No. 19 of
1953 and the Patent Law No. 22 of 1953 in the West Bank.

Trademarks are governed by Law No 33 of 1952 in the West Bank
and Trademark Law No. 35 of 1938 in Gaza. The period of
initial protection of trademarks is seven years, and

trademarks may be renewed for successive periods of time. The
Patents and Design Law No. 22 of 1953 is applicable in the
West Bank and the Patents Design Law No 64 of 1947 is
applicable in Gaza. A foreign company is entitled to have a
patent or design registered by giving power of attorney in
this regard to a patent agent or to a lawyer, with the
requisite documents. In order to register a trademark, four
copies of the proposed trademark must be attached to the
application, one of them in color, along with a copy of the
company's Certificate of Registration.

Copyright in the Palestinian Territories is governed by the
Copyrights laws of 1911 and 1924. The protection lasts for a
period of 50 years after the death of the author of the work.
The law also deals wQh infringements, compulsory licenses,
and many other procedural issues as well.

The law prescribes imprisonment for a maximum period of one
year or a fine not exceeding 100 Jordanian dinars for
infringement of a registered mark. A foreign company is
entitled to register its trademark in the Palestinian
Territories by giving power of attorney in this regard either
to a trademark agent or to a lawyer. Trademarks can be
registered unless they fall within the recognized
prohibition, such as being similar to or identical to an
already registered trademark, are likely to lead to deception
of the public, or are contrary to public morality.

Patent protection is provided for a period of 16 years from
the date of filing the patent application. Furthermore, both
systems require licensing of anything already patented if the
reasonable requirements have not been met. Trademark
protection is available for registered trademarks for a
period of seven years, which may be extended for additional
periods of 14 years. The proprietor of a trademark in WB/G
owns the sole right to the use of the trademark in
association with the goods with which the trademark is
registered. The trademark is open for opposition after being
published in the Gazette for a period of three months. The
holder of a trademark retains the right to bring civil action
against any perpetrator in addition to criminal proceedings.
There is minimal enforcement of IPR laws for music and movies
in the West Bank/Gaza, while the PA has enforced some of
these laws to protect the Palestinian pharmaceutical industry.

The PA is keen to obtain membership in the different
organizations and agreements concerned with intellectual
property such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the
World Intellectual Property Organization, where it has held
observer status since 2005. It should be noted that trade
names are registered in the Palestinian Territories
according to specific procedures and conditions that are laid
out in the Jordanian Trade Names Registration Law No. 30 of
1953, which is still applicable in the West Bank, and Law No.
1 of 1929 in Gaza.

A.8 TRANSPARENCY OF THE REGULATORY SYSTEM

The PA has worked to erect a sound legislative framework for
business and other economic activity in the areas under its
jurisdiction since its creation in 1994; however,
implementation and monitoring of implementation needs to be
strengthened, according to many observers. The PA Ministry
of National Economy, with the assistance of international
donors, is in the process of drafting a number of proposed
laws related to business and commercial regulation,
including regulation of competition, bankruptcy, trademark
and copyright, and amendments to the investment law. The
Ministry of National Economy regularly holds stakeholder
meetings for draft commercial legislation to gather input
from the private sector and published drafts of the proposed
law. It is worth noting, however, that the continued
inability of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) to
meet its quorum means that each law must be adopted as a
presidential decree, which often delays reform efforts. The
laws and amendments will need to be approved by the PLC,
should it reconvene in the future.

There is a regulatory body that governs the insurance sector,
and the PA, with donor assistance, has made progress on
setting up an independent telecom regulator.

A.9 EFFICIENT CAPITAL MARKETS AND PORTFOLIO INVESTMENT

Major progress was achieved in 2004 with the passage by the
PLC of the Capital Markets Authority Law, the Securities
Commission Law, and the establishment of the Capital Market
Authority, the regulator of the stock exchange and insurance
industries.

Twenty banks operate in the Palestinian Territories, several
of which are foreign banks, mostly Jordanian; the top three
banks have assets of more than USD4 billion combined. No
Palestinian currency exists, and, as a result, the PA places
no restrictions on foreign currency accounts. The
Palestinian Monetary Authority (PMA) is responsible for bank
regulation in both the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian banks
are some of the most liquid in the region with more than USD7
billion in assets at the end of 2008 and credit exposure of
only USD1.7 billion. Palestinian banks have remained stable
despite the global economic crisis, but have suffered from
deteriorated relations with Israeli correspondents since the
Hamas takeover in Gaza in 2007, at which time Israeli banks
cut ties with Gaza branches and have gradually restricted
cash services provided to West Bank branches. More recently,
Israeli restrictions on the movement of cash between West
Bank and Gaza branches of Palestinian banks have caused
intermittent liquidity crises in Gaza for all major
currencies - U.S. dollars, Jordanian dinars and Israeli
shekels.

Credit is limited by concerns over uncertain political and
economic conditions and limited availability of real estate
collateral due to non-registration of most West Bank land.
The PMA has taken steps to improve the sector's loan to
deposit ratio in 2009 from 28% to 38% by encouraging banks to
participate in loan guarantee programs sponsored by the
United States and international financial institutions,
supporting a national strategy on microfinance, and putting
in restrictions on foreign placements. The Ministry of
National Economy has drafted legislation that would allow the
use of moveable assets, such as equipment, as collateral for
loans.

In early 1997, the Palestinian Securities Exchange (PSE)
started operations on a limited scale in the West Bank city
of Nablus. Thirty-nine shareholding companies have been
approved for listing, spanning a wide range of sectors,
including banking, services, and insurance, and more are
expected to be listed soon as the Securities Law and the
Capital Markets Authority strengthen the legal framework of
the PSE. There are currently an estimated 40 Palestinian
companies eligible to be listed on the Exchange with a market
capitalization of over USD one billion.

A.10 COMPETITION FROM STATE-OWNED ENTERPRISES

Although there are no state owned enterprises, some contacts
have noted that the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF), an
investment fund that essentially acts as a sovereign wealth
fund, enjoys a competitive advantage in some sectors,
including housing and telecom, due to its close ties with the
PA.

A.11 CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (CSR)

There is a growing awareness of corporate social
responsibility among both producers and consumers in the
Palestinian Territories. While CSR is not mandated by law or
regulation, some of the largest corporations have set up or
funded foundations to promote educational opportunities,
economic and social development, and protect the environment.
Several local companies have recently qualified for fair
trade certifications, which entail community involvement and
economic sustainability initiatives.

A.12 POLITICAL VIOLENCE

In June 2007, Hamas violently seized control of Gaza,
effectively removing the PA from government facilities.
Since that time, crossings between Israel and Gaza have been
closed by Israel, with only limited humanitarian shipments
and certain commercial shipments allowed to enter Gaza. The
economic situation and investment outlook in Gaza further

deteriorated following Israeli combat operations there during
December 2008 and January 2009 ("Operation Cast Lead").
Even before the substantial physical damage sustained by the
private sector during the military operation, the World Bank
estimated as many as 90% of private sector businesses had
closed. Exports from Gaza are now almost entirely restricted
and economic activity in Gaza has fallen precipitously.
While some limited reconstruction materials have been allowed
into Gaza to assist with rebuilding infrastructure, the
private sector has increasingly turned to the illicit tunnel
economy to procure commercial goods and reconstruction
materials.

The State Department, at the time of this writing, has in
place a travel warning that urges American citizens to avoid
all travel in the Gaza Strip and to exercise caution when
traveling in the West Bank.

A.13 CORRUPTION

Corruption is criminalized under the Anti-Graft Law (AGL) of
2005, and the State Audit and Administrative Control Law and
Civil Service Law both aim to prevent favoritism, conflict of
interest, or exploitation of position for personal gain. The
Attorney General's office is tasked with following up on the
issue of corruption and corrupt officials. However, the PLC,
which is the body responsible for oversight of the PA's
executive branch, has not met since mid-2007. This lack of
oversight and accountability of the executive branch has
raised transparency concerns. Palestinian civil society and
media are active advocates of anti-corruption measures, and
there are also international and Palestinian non-governmental
organizations that work to raise public awareness and promote
anti-corruption initiatives. The most active of these is as
the AMAN Coalition for Integrity and Accountability, the
Palestinian chapter of Transparency International.

The U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem has received reports
of potential foreign and domestic investors being asked to
provide inducement fees or to include well-connected persons
in their business arrangements to help secure a contract.
There are no reliable means of determining where or to what
extent this kind of activity occurs.

A.14 BILATERAL INVESTMENT AGREEMENTS

The PLO, on behalf of the PA, has signed international trade
agreements, which refer implicitly or explicitly to WTO
rules. These include:

1) Paris Protocol Agreement with Israel (1994) - free trade
in products between Israel and Palestinian markets
2) Technical and Economic Cooperation Accord with Egypt
(1994)
3) Trade Agreement between the PA and Jordan (1995)
3) Duty Free Arrangements with the United States (1996)
4) The EuroMed Interim Association Agreement on Trade and
Co-operation (1997)
5) Interim Agreement between European Free Trade Area (EFTA)
states and the PLO (1997)
6) Joint Canadian-Palestinian Framework for Economic
Cooperation and Trade (1999)
7) Agreement on Commercial Cooperation with Russia - extends
MFN status
8) Greater Arab Free Trade Area, to which PA is a party
(2001)
9) Free Trade Agreement with Turkey (2004)
10) Unilateral acts by other Arab trade partners extending
preferential treatment to trade with Palestine

Since 1996, duty-free treatment has been available to all
goods exported from the West Bank/Gaza to the United States,
provided they meet qualifying criteria as spelled out in the
U.S.-Israel Free Trade Area (FTA) Implementation Act of 1985,
as amended. The duty-free benefits accorded under the FTA
exceed those benefits which would be provided under the
Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

A.15 OPIC AND OTHER INVESTMENT INSURANCE PROGRAMS

OPIC provides a variety of services to qualified U.S.
investors in emerging economies and developing nations.

During the early stages of investment planning, U.S.
investors may contact OPIC for insurance against political
violence, inconvertibility of currency, and expropriation in
the form of an insurance registration letter. OPIC insurance
is not available after the investment has been irrevocably
committed. OPIC has initiated a number of programs in the
West Bank and Gaza to support private sector development,
including a loan guarantee facility.

The World Bank, via a USD 20 million fund administered by its
Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), provides
guarantees in the form of insurance against political risk
for private investments in the West Bank and Gaza. Under the
terms of the Fund, investors who are nationals of or
companies incorporated in a MIGA member country, or who are
Palestinian residents of the West Bank or Gaza, are eligible
to obtain guarantees for up to 15 years. The Fund currently
has the capacity to issue guarantees for up to USD five
million per project.

A.16 LABOR

With its growing youth population, the Palestinian
Territories have an abundant labor supply with a high level
of education and skills. Despite the political obstacles
caused by Israeli permit restrictions, the separation
barrier, closures, and the difficulty of moving within and
between the West Bank/Gaza and Israel, the labor market has
been successful in creating more employment locally. The
dependency ratio remains high, with each worker supporting
5.6 people in 2008 (compared to 4.8 in the third quarter of
2000). As the GOI has restricted the number of labor permits
available to Palestinians, border areas such as Jenin,
Tulkarem, and Qalqilya have seen their unemployment rates
increase substantially above the West Bank average.

PCBS reported in December 2009 the following unemployment
levels:
West Bank - 25.8 percent
Gaza Strip - 42.3 percent

As of December 2009, PCBS reported that 25 percent of jobs in
the West Bank/Gaza were in the public sector (16.3 percent in
the West Bank and 48.4 percent in Gaza Strip.) The results
showed that the highest percentage of unemployment was
concentrated among youth aged 15-29 years.

The working age population (over the age of 15) reached
2,298,700 (56 percent of the Palestinian population) in
December 2009, according to PCBS.

Labor force distribution (percentage) by sector is as follows:
(Source: PCBS labor report in December 2009)

West Bank
12.8 percent - Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, Hunting
13.6 percent - Mining, Quarrying, Manufacturing
10 percent - Construction
21.4 percent - Commerce, Hotels, Restaurants
6.1 percent - Transportation, Storage, Communication
36.1 percent - Services and other

Gaza
4.9 percent - Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, Hunting
6.0 percent - Mining, Quarrying, Manufacturing
0.9 percent - Construction
18.6 percent - Commerce, Hotels, Restaurants
6.4 percent - Transportation, Storage, Communication
63.2 percent - Services and other

A.17 FOREIGN TRADE ZONES/FREE PORTS

There are no foreign trade zones or free ports in West Bank
or Gaza.

A.18 FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT (FDI) STATISTICS

The PA has not yet compiled a complete listing of foreign
direct investments, but PCBS statistics indicate that 2008
FDI amounted to USD 59.8 million, up from USD 38 million in
2006. Limited foreign investment flows began in 1994-95,
with the majority of funds coming from Palestinian investors.

The largest foreign company in the West Bank/Gaza is the
Palestine Development and Investment Company (PADICO), which
has invested over USD 500 million in the economy. Key PADICO
investors include Diaspora Palestinians from Jordan, Great
Britain, and the Gulf. PADICO has made significant
investments in telecommunications, housing, and the
establishment of the Palestinian Securities Exchange.
Another large foreign investment group active in West Bank
with authorized capital of over USD 100 million is the Arab
Palestinian Investment Company (APIC), which is headquartered
in Ramallah. Other significant potential foreign investments
include Qatari mobile operator QTel's projected USD 600
million investment in Wataniya Mobile over a 10-year period,
and Qatari Diar's projected USD 500 million investment in
Rawabi, a mixed use/affordable housing real estate
development.

RUBINSTEIN

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