Israel's trade deficit tripled in June 2002 compared with the same month of 2001, to NIS 900 million, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.

The trade deficit for the first half of 2002 reached $2.2 billion, which extrapolates to $4.4 billion in annual terms, compared with $3.7 billion in 2001.

Imports climbed to $2.9 billion in June 2002, while exports totaled $2 billion, leaving a difference of $900 million.

June imports in 2001 were $2.4 billion, making the figure in June this year 20% higher.

Sine 36% of the imports in June 2002 were of raw materials, excluding fuel and diamonds. Another 36% was fuel, diamonds, ships and planes, 17% was machinery and ground vehicles for investment, and 11% were consumer goods.

Exports were $2 billion this June compared with $2.1 billion in June 2001, a drop of 5%. Of that, 75% was industrial exports excluding diamonds, 23% was diamonds, and the rest was agricultural produce.

Trend figures show a 3.2% rise in annual terms in commodity imports from February to June, after a 9.3% decline, in annual terms, during the second half of 2001 and stability in January 2002.