Israel’s open-secret trade
This paper uncovers and quantifies Israel’s exports to countries that ban trade with Israel. Israel exported a total of $6.4 billion worth of merchandise to boycott countries between 1962 and 2012, and most of this trade is illicit, i.e. not recorded by the importers. We find that electronic exports to Malaysia account for the lion’s share of this trade but it also includes a wide array of products from footwear to fruit and vegetables. Our estimates suggest Israel’s exports to these countries would be 10 times larger without the boycott. On top of providing further evidence on the unintended consequences of unilateral trade bans, this paper provides a case study on the role of politics in international trade.