Israel/ Hamas war: Ghanaian businesses asked to stay away from Israel

Israel/ Hamas war: Ghanaian businesses asked to stay away from Israel

This is not the best time for a delegation from Ghana to visit Israel to explore business opportunities or for tourism, Yaniv Tessel, Head of Economic and Trade Mission at the Embassy of Israel in Ghana, has advised.

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He said much as the country was safe, “I would want to advise that they stay away until things normalise, and that will be soon”.

Addressing a cross section of the media at the embassy in Accra, Mr Tessel said Ethiopian Airlines, after a short break, resumed flights to Israel since December 1 and that could make it easy for people willing to go to that country to do so; “But we would advise them to stay away for now.”

The war

On October 7, Hamas led a surprise attack on towns, a music festival, army bases and other locations in Israel, killing roughly 1,200 people and taking about 240 hostages, including children, according to the Israeli government.

Israeli officials vowed to destroy Hamas, the Palestinian group that controls the Gaza Strip and is considered a terrorist organisation by the United States, Israel and other countries. Israel has since besieged Gaza in one of the most intense bombing campaigns of this century, and launched a ground invasion.

More than 11,000 Palestinians, including more than 4,600 children, have been killed since the Israeli campaign began, according to Gaza’s health ministry. 

The violence, its fallout and the humanitarian crisis afflicting Gazan civilians, have shaken the region and the world with many calling for either a ceasefire, a complete end to the war or for Israel to stop targeting civilians who are caught up in the crossfire.

In the last few days, there have been some exchange of hostages from Hamas as the Israelis also released some Palestinian prisoners.

Since then, the war has resumed after a few days ceasefire agreement, creating discomfort as there are fears it may escalate beyond the borders of the two neighbours to create bigger global trade barriers.

Israel Ghana trade

On the impact of the war on Ghana/Israel trade, Mr Tessel said the war might slightly affect trade volumes this month. 

Trade volumes between the two countries stood at a total of $27 million in 2022. Ghana earned $6 million with the rest going to Israel.

Giving more insights, he said there might be “Possible effects on Israel-Ghana trade. Import and export activities of goods and services in October and November to continue in spite of the war. Quarter four might be slightly affected.” 

He said since early November, Israeli companies resumed business visits in Ghana and noted that “Every crisis is also an opportunity” which both countries must heavily explore to their advantage.

Economic Forecast

Describing the impact of the war on the Israeli economy, he said for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, the initial forecast of 3.8 per cent in 2023 will be down by 1-2 per cent depending on the different scenarios.

Deficit target has been revised for 2023 from one per cent to 2.3 per cent of the GDP. 2024 deficit target has also been revised to 3.5 per cent.

Regarding credit rating, Israel’s high credit rating remains high in recent reports of S&P, Modis and Fitch, but it is under review for downgrade according to Mr Tessel.

Potential challenges for labour market

For the high-tech sector, the drafting of 350,000 reservists to the Israel Defence Force (IDF) resulted in a shortage of manpower in the tech industry.

In the manufacturing sector, 62 per cent of the factories in Israel reported that they experienced a shortage of skilled labour.

The agriculture sector is not also spared the ordeal from the war because the repatriation of foreign workers back to their countries and the lack in Palestinian workers (mainly from Gaza) due to the war has led to a shortage 20,000+ agriculture workers.

Hope

Despite these challenges, among many others, to the economy, Mr Tessel expressed the hope that Israel would emerge victorious to return its economy back to a stronger footing as had been demonstrated over the years.

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