Netanyahu and Trajtenberg 311.
(photo credit: Avi Ohion/ GPO)
The Standards Institution of Israel (SII) will soon have its powers reduced, and
new regulations will come into effect regarding imports, after the cabinet on
Sunday passed amended versions of two of the remaining recommendations from the
Trajtenberg Report’s chapter on competition.
Most of the chapter was
approved by the cabinet in December, but these passages were excluded at the
time amid opposition from the Standards Institution and industry officials. The
Trajtenberg Report was commissioned by the government in response to last
summer’s protests over the cost of living.
Pending approval from the
Knesset, the Standards Institution will be stripped of the power to approve
standards for most imported products, and will only still be able to do so for
specific products which the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry decides are of
importance to the environment or public health and safety. The ministry and the
SII will be charged with drawing up a new list for imported products which
reflects international standards, rather than existing Israeli
The Trajtenberg Report introduced this recommendation in the
belief that the Standards Institution – a non-governmental organization tasked
with preparing standards and ensuring the quality of locally produced and
imported products – presented a barrier to importation which consequently
reduced competition and increased prices.
Sunday’s decision came at the
same time as a survey of business people commissioned by the Federation of
Israeli Chambers of Commerce ranked the SII the second-most plagued by red tape
from among eight offices in the public sector.
The institution was rated
less bureaucratic than the judicial system, but more than the Industry, Trade
and Labor Ministry, Transportation Ministry, Interior Ministry, National
Insurance Institute, Treasury and Health Ministry.
On the topic of import
taxes, the cabinet approved Trajtenberg’s recommendation that dumping duties be
imposed for a limited time, as opposed to the current policy which specifies no
end date. A dumping duty is a penalty imposed on low-priced imports to increase
their price in the importing country and protect local industry from unfair
Also Thursday, the cabinet decided that enforcement of labor
conditions will concentrate on violations of regulations on low wages, including
those committed by service contractors and employers of foreign workers. Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said workers who feel their rights have been
violated should contact the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry switchboard.