Wednesday, August 11, 2004
EU wants to know what products come from Israeli settlements
According to the Financial Times, the EU and Israel will soon ink a deal whereby all products stamped "Made in Israel" must also identify their exact place of origin, thus allowing the EU to identify which products come from the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. In addition, those that come from the settlements will be subect to a duty that other Israeli products would not. Some Israeli companies and settlement advocates are up in arms by the deal, which they view as putting Israel's interest in being friendly with Europe above its commitment to the settlements.
The economic impact of the EU's tariff measure on the Israeli economy is negligible. Exports from settlements account for around $120m (€97.5m, £65.3m) of Israel's $7bn annual sales to the EU. The additional tariff burden will be less than $10m a year.However, it also needs to be noted that companies are "forced" and "held hostage" by the Israeli government which advocates their investment in the settlements by offering certain incentives and priveleges and threatening to revoke these priveleges if companies move out of the occupied territories. One example:
“That may be nothing overall but for individual businesses here it's 100 per cent,” said Ron Nachman, mayor and founder of Ariel. “The Israeli government was forced into this deal. The Europeans made Israel's $7bn exports hostage to the $120m.”
Beigel and Beigel, a food unit of Unilever Israel, was planning to relocate its Barkan factory to southern Israel but that the government was reported last month to have turned down its request for a development grant to encourage it to remain in the West Bank.
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