A roundtable discussion on the opportunities for investors in the Palestinian economy was hosted in the boardroom at the ABCC on the morning of 15th June 2022.
The focus of the discussion was a detailed and broad ranging presentation delivered by H E Dr Husam S Zomlot, the Ambassador of the Palestinian Mission to the UK, who was warmly greeted to the ABCC by CEO & Secretary General, Mr Bandar Reda and ABCC Deputy CEO & Secretary General, Mr Abdeslam El-Idrissi.
The ambassador was accompanied by a delegation from the London office of the Palestinian Mission.
Opening the discussion, Mr Reda stressed the importance of Palestine, a country with an impressive history and legacy, which had a central place in people’s thoughts. Palestine would remain equally significant in future.
Participating in the exchange of ideas were senior representatives from various sectors who were interested in pursuing the investment and trading opportunities with Palestine.
The Ambassador was keen to show that successful business could be carried out with Palestine despite the external restrictions that were imposed on it which meant that the Palestinians were not in control of their own resources.
His Excellency applauded the ABCC for its positive role in supporting Palestine and welcomed the opportunity to exchange ideas with the British business community.
He believed that trade could still be expanded despite the prevailing obstacles. It was good news that bilateral trade was currently increasing and the trade agreement that had replaced the European Union arrangement meant that trade tariffs were kept at preferential rates.
H E Dr Zomlot looked forward to improved levels of trade from what was presently a very low base reaching a total of only $51 million in 2021.
Palestine had laid the foundations for an attractive investment framework and had established five industrial zones located around the Palestinian territories, which could attract foreign investment.
Doing business with Palestine was a profitable activity and not a charitable exercise, the Ambassador was eager to emphasise.
The Palestine Stock Exchange was one of the achievements highlighted by the Ambassador in his presentation. The institution was entirely private sector owned which made it unique among stock exchanges in the region.
Attractive incentives were available for investors in what was a flexible market operating under clear guidelines which enabled unrestricted access and freedom for investors. The tax regime was designed to attract investors who were permitted to repatriate their profits.
The trade treaties that the Palestinian Authority had signed with countries around the world made the market attractive for investors and traders.
Turning to the potential available in specific sectors of the economy, H E Dr Zomlot explained the richness of the agricultural land on which farmers grew such varied high value export crops as olive oil, herbs, spices, dates, fruit and flowers. Through additional investment, there was significant growth potential in activities like fish farms and oil extraction from plants to be used for medicinal purposes.
Palestine was renowned for the high quality of its stone and marble as well as its leather goods manufacturing.
The local construction sector presented strong opportunities for investors with growth being driven by demand for housing and a series of housing projects in the pipeline.
Other strengths of the Palestine economy could be found in renewable energy, where its main strength was in solar, and in ICT, the Ambassador stated.
The ICT sector was especially innovative and offered great possibilities for outsourcing and setting up call centres.
There was a pool of professional expertise and talent available with around 3,000 new IT graduates qualifying every year and seeking employment. Palestine’s IT start-ups were attracting funding and UK firms should become more aware of how they could benefit from working with Palestinians in this sector.
The Ambassador drew attention to an initiative to set up a UK-Palestine Tech Hub which was supported by the UK Embassy with the aim of developing closer links in the IT sector and build a sustainable Palestinian tech ecosystem.
In summary, H E Dr Zomlot, concluded that Palestine possessed all the key elements required for doing business successfully such as its excellent infrastructure, transparent legal framework and educated workforce.
He was convinced that UK investors could derive great benefit from investing in Palestine and anticipated introducing the opportunities to more UK businesses.
In concluding his remarks, H E the Ambassador applauded the positive role taken by the ABCC and finally highlighted the activities of the private sector led Palestine British Business Council, which was preparing to hold an investment conference in the city of London in 2023.