Israeli import reforms will cut prices, ministry official says

A driver looks on as a container is being loaded onto his truck from a cargo ship while it is docked at the Port of Haifa, Israel August 8, 2021. REUTERS/Nir Elias

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MODI’IN, Israel, May 26 (Reuters) – A long-awaited relaxation of Israeli import controls coming into effect next week should boost competition and cut prices, a government official said on Thursday.

From June 1, a list non-food goods that have already been cleared for use in other developed countries will no longer need a separate inspection on arriving in Israel by local authorities.

Similar reforms to cut red tape and costs for imports of cosmetics and drugstore items are expected in 2023.

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“It’s a big and dramatic change. We are talking about tens of thousands of products” such as toys, furniture, ceramics and electrical appliances, Ron Malka, director general of Israel’s Economy and Industry Ministry, told Reuters on the sidelines of an imports conference.

“We are going to see many more products and more importers, which will increase competition … and lower prices,” he added.

The government promised a raft of measures to cut the cost of living after it came into office in June 2021

Data show that many imported goods are brought to Israel by single importers – a situation that creates effective monopolies and keeps prices high.

While lower than much of the West due to stable energy prices, Israel’s inflation rate stands at 4% and the Bank of Israel has raised its benchmark interest rate 0.65 point the last two months.

Malka acknowledged that local producers were not happy with the reform but said they would have to innovate to keep up their market share.

He noted that Israel had imposed its own stricter import standards after its founding in 1948 to protect its young industries. “Now we feel more mature and can reduce standards and barriers,” he said.

Under the reforms, importers just need to declare they meet international standards, rather than undergo regular, long and costly inspections. Anyone found to have deceived customs officials will face tougher penalties than before.

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Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Andrew Heavens

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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