The Cost of Living Cabinet on Sunday approved the recommendation to reduce roadblocks on goods imported for personal use, and promised additional reforms for commercial and parallel imports in the coming months.
The reforms, which still must be passed in the Knesset, promise to consolidate bureaucracy for imports under one roof, approve or reject requests for personal import items within two working days of submission and set up a clear website, which will include the necessary forms and fees information.
“This is a real consumer revolution, which will free the Israeli customer from the captivity of the import authorities,” said Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.
By easing the process of importing goods for individual use, the cabinet hopes to increase competition with local retailers, and thus bring down prices. Online purchases, in particular, should be simpler under the new rules.
“Reforming the personal import market will lead to greater competition to the economy, the reduction of bureaucracy and regulation and to relieving the Israeli consumer, which can pick the cheapest and most convenient way [to shop],” Finance Minster Yair Lapid said.
The proposed reforms were based on the findings of a commission on increasing competition and reducing market barriers led by Finance Ministry General-Director Amit Lang. Lang found that consumers had trouble navigating the customs, taxes and fees around importing products.
Different government agencies also had different guidelines for the same products, making the process confusing and, at times, more expensive than need be. Consumers also complained about the difficulty of getting customs to release their goods once they had arrived.
According to Lang, the committee’s recommendations reflect a change in the Israeli consumer, “who demand to purchase a wider variety of items at prices that are competitive with those found outside the Israeli market.”
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