Smells fine to me: Liberman cancels fish taxes in Israel

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman signed on the cancellation of duty fees for the import of fresh, frozen and processed seafood.

  Teachers' Union head Yaffa Ben-David, Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman hold a press conference (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Teachers' Union head Yaffa Ben-David, Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton and Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman hold a press conference
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

If you like fish and don’t want to fund the government’s budget too much when you buy it, you’re in luck: As of Monday, you won’t have to pay customs on the purchase of the deceased denizens of the sea.

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman signed a decree canceling the customs duty on the import of fresh, frozen and processed fish earlier this week, in advance of the High Holy Day season. “Rosh Hashanah is upon us, and we’re bringing great tidings to the citizens of Israel: lowering the price of fish,” Liberman said.

“Rosh Hashanah is upon us, and we’re bringing great tidings to the citizens of Israel, lowering the price of fish.”

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman

Which fish are included? 

The decree includes the cancellation of the customs duty on a variety of fish such as bream, sea bass, locus, moser, bass, trout, tuna (in both the canned and “straight off the 1,800 lb sea monster” varieties) and seafood. For certain products, the effect of the cancellation will be immediate, while others will be affected gradually.

 A seller holds a fish at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year which starts at sundown on Friday, September 17, 2020.  (credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90) A seller holds a fish at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem ahead of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year which starts at sundown on Friday, September 17, 2020. (credit: NATI SHOHAT/FLASH90)

Liberman touted the move as an act of promoting market competition — a notion that has characterized the Finance Ministry's efforts for the last few months.

“The best answer we have to the inflation that’s raging all over the world is competition through reduced tariffs and cheaper imports from the rest of the world,” he said. “The reduction of the duty on fish is a follow-up step to the reduction of duties on various products as part of the "zero duty" reform that I have been leading in recent months."

In February, Liberman and then-prime minister Naftali Bennett announced a reduction on a vast range of taxes and tariffs in an effort to combat the steadily rising cost of living. Fish was included in that blanket decree, as well as everyday groceries and items such as meat, fish, flour, olive oil, eggs, furniture and kitchen utensils.

“Although relatively, the global price increase is hitting Israel moderately compared to other countries, we feel it well because it sits upon very high prices in the first place,” said Bennett at a press conference earlier that week. “We need to see the situation as an opportunity: an opportunity to address structural, long-term failures that have led to a decade of price increases.“

“Although relatively, the global price increase is hitting Israel moderately compared to other countries, we feel it well because it sits upon very high prices in the first place.”

Alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

The duo made several efforts during Bennett’s tenure to improve market competition in Israel. In early June, they signed the abolishment of several dozen national import standards in order to promote parallel imports of products and brands into Israel, widening the spectrum of brands and products available to consumers.

“From now on, anyone will be able to bring any product that meets the European standard,” said Bennett. “The market will be open to competition and a variety of products, without unnecessary bureaucracies and especially at much lower costs. We have promised to reduce unnecessary regulation, and we are following through.”