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In this article we sought to develop a methodology for estimating the level and composition of potential trade between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The need for such a methodology derives from the fact that the existing trade of these countries with the rest of the world constitutes an insufficient basis for predicting bilateral trade patterns between them. Trade based on input sharing can be an important source of ''new trade'' that is, trade that is not necessarily related to goods and services currently traded by the countries in question. New trade based on input sharing pertains to the imports by Arab countries of inputs in which Israel has a proven comparative advantage, and to imports by Israel of inputs produced in Arab countries in which the latter have a proven comparative advantage. It stands to reason that branches characterized by comparative advantage in the exporting country can improve the competitive position of the import ing country, when incorporated in the latter's final products. The analysis confirms that in agricultural produce, food products, and certain sub-branches of the textiles and clothing industry, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt all appear to be potential suppliers to Israel. Inter alia, the results show that the Israeli import potential of inputs from Jordan appears to be both larger and more evenly distributed among the different branches than the import potential from Syria and even from Egypt. This finding does not accord with expectations in view of the fact that Jordan has a smaller population and a lower gross domestic product than either Egypt or Syria. Jordan stands out in that its construction industry, including ceramic products, nonmetallic minerals, and structural metals, are also potential suppliers. The methodology developed in this article specifically concerns potential trade between Israel and its Arab neighbors. It can be usefully employed in other situations where trade between pairs of countries is either nonexistent or severely distorted by political or other factors. Examples which come to mind include trade between countries which in the past belonged to the Soviet bloc, or trade between these countries and the rest of the world. In such cases it is improper to base one's trade predictions on the countries' existing trading patterns. New trade, which can be very substantial, and which may have a very different composition from current trade of the parties concerned, must be added to the equation. The methodology demonstrated in this article can be easily adapted for this purpose.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 1999

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