Cranes are seen at the port of the northern Israeli city of Haifa, April 23, 2013. Photo: Reuters / Ronen Zvulun / File.

Israel’s foreign trade deficit grew 10.4 percent to $23.74 billion in 2019 amid a drop in exports, the Central Bureau of Statistics said on Monday.

Exports — which account for about 30 percent of Israel’s economic activity — fell 4.2 last year, led by a nearly 14 percent drop in high tech exports, while goods imports excluding ships, aircraft, diamonds and fuel rose 1 percent, the bureau said.

Exporters have suffered from a strong shekel, which appreciated 8.3 percent last year against a basket of currencies of Israel’s main trading partners.

In December, the trade deficit widened to $3.04 billion from $966 million in November and $2 billion in December 2018.