Ministers approve food import reforms while saying more is needed

Israeli fish breeders with get a one-time compensation of NIS 23 million for 2016.

March 24, 2016 21:08
1 minute read.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Tax-free food imports will be allowed for a number of items after Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel signed an agreement, aiming to “stabilize food prices ahead of the Passover holiday.”

The agreement also outlines the amount of compensation that will be provided to local farmers.

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With the government’s approval to import 3,500 tons of tariff- free tilapia and 500 tons of carp and gray mullet fish without tariffs, Israeli fish breeders with get a one-time compensation of NIS 23 million for 2016.

Israeli olive oil producers will also get NIS 15m. in compensation to offset the tax-free import of 2,000 tons of olive oil.

A special committee will monitor the agreement’s implementation and gather reports on the effects lower import taxes could have on prices at all levels.

The reform also allowed for the tax-free import of 3,500 tons of meat, though it did not specify how much compensation would be provided to Israeli slaughterers.

The Agriculture Ministry emphasized the need for more imported meat earlier in the week as it banned meat from the West Bank from being sold in Israel, noting the products do not meet minimum health standards and that the Palestinian Authority’s veterinary services are “untrustworthy.”

The ministry said that if meat and chicken imports from other countries were to be stepped up, Israeli authorities would be able to ensure the quality of the products comply with relevant standards.

Although it realizes the “diplomatic importance” of these products, the ministry said that “no civilized country would permit these products to be sold,” and that neither the US nor Europe would allow the same PA items to be imported.

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