RAMALLAH, July 17 (JMCC) - Palestinian entrepreneur Waddah Bseiso once sold two million dollars a year in furniture overseas. Today, the Gazan businessman can only sell his goods in Gaza, where a glut of furniture drives prices and demand down, reports
When we were able to export to European markets, our prices were higher because the standard of living there is higher. But to sell anything in Gaza we have to drastically reduce our prices, says Waddah Bsaiso.
Other factories that formerly exported are now forced to sell solely in Gaza, so the market is flooded, and our outside contacts have lost faith in receiving anything from Gaza, he says.
Our greatest problem today is that we can't export anything. Consequently, we are using just ten percent of our production capabilities.
The loss in revenue does not affect just Bsaiso and his family. If we had the customers, we could employ up to 150 workers. But at present we only employ 15.
Abed Abu Seedo imported recycled glass vases and bottles from Nablus, in the occupied West Bank, to refinish and sell abroad. Decorated with smoky finishes and fine painting, the glassware sold well in British, European and U.S. markets.
I haven't been able to import glass from Nablus for years now. And exporting is out of the question. There isn't much interest in my products in Gaza. People think about the necessities, not frivolities like glass decorations.
Down the aisle, a wall of hand-embroidered purses and pillow covers, as well as hand-woven decorative rugs, once sold in Jerusalem's busy tourist markets.Now Mahmoud el Sawaf sells to some foreigners in Gaza, but his shop is otherwise largely unvisited. Facing export impossibilities, Waddah Bsaiso feels Israel has an ulterior motive for prohibiting exports. Israel wants people like me who export to feel like we can't do anything. The policies are to destroy our will to work, produce, and survive, he says.
Gaza these days is merely a recipient of aid, not an exporting, self-sufficient country. We don't want this, we want to sell our own goods and live like normal people, says Bsaiso.