Despite opposition by Israel's dairy farmers and professional staff in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon has signed an administrative order exempting butter imports into Israel from customs duties. The order is valid for one year. As a result of the order, butter can now be imported to Israel without customs duties or quotas. The order was supported by the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economy and Industry, the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development director general.
One big question remains: whether or the state will force the importers to sell the imported butter at the controlled price and categorize the imported butter as an "identical product." A decision on this issue will be taken by the prices committee, which will decide whether price controls will apply to Israeli butter and not to imported butter, or whether both imported and locally produced butter will be price controlled. Another more complicated option is removing price controls on both categories of butter.
The Israel Cattle Breeders Association said today in response, "We were not surprised by the signing, and certainly not by its timing. There is no butter shortage - not even a single kilogram. We will petition the High Court of Justice as soon as possible, and prevent this demagogic measure by the Ministry of Finance budget department. We are finished with agreements with the budget department. They have brought it on themselves."
Elad Malka, founder and director of the "Our Interest - Your Lobby in the Knesset" organization, which supported unrestricted butter imports, welcoming the signing of the administrative order. He added, "It is encouraging to see that the Israeli government made the right decision in order to end the butter crisis in Israel. In order to make the measure complete, price controls for butter should be eliminated, so that market prices work to the consumers' benefit, not for the benefit of pressure groups."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 26, 2020
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