July 25: Fish in a suitcase

The expanded Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement which reduces import tariffs on Canadian fish, offers a glimmer of hope to the long-suffering Israeli consumer.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Fish in a suitcase
The expanded Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (“Israel, Canada update free-trade accord,” July 23), which reduces import tariffs on Canadian fish, offers a glimmer of hope to the long-suffering Israeli consumer.
According to the Bank of Israel, Israelis pay 30 percent more for fish than consumers in OECD countries with similar per capita incomes. High import tariffs are a major contributing factor. In 2012, the effective tariff rate on imported fish was 36%. Some types of fish are not imported at all due to prohibitive tariffs of 80-100%.
Hopefully, lower tariffs on Canadian fish will be passed on to consumers in the form of lower prices rather than pocketed by importers and retailers.
Of course, reducing tariffs on Canadian fish is not sufficient.
The government needs to be much more aggressive in reducing food prices. It must stop using tariffs to protect inefficient domestic producers at the consumer’s expense. It must reduce tariffs and tell inefficient producers to cut the waste or go out of business.
A case in point is the domestic paper sector. In the 1980s, notebooks and writing pads were so expensive that it was worth importing them in one’s suitcase.
But in the early 1990s, the government decided to expose the sector to foreign competition by lowering tariffs. The manufacturers understood that they must increase their productivity or go bankrupt, so they implemented productivity improvements, which drastically reduced the consumption of water, electricity and raw materials, and made their products so affordable that importing notebooks in suitcases became a thing of the past.
Let’s repeat this successful experiment in the food sector.
The writer, who has PhD in economics from Columbia University, is a senior lecturer in the Department of Economics and Business Administration at Ariel University.
Careful next time With regard to “Needed: A new approach to Gaza” (Encountering Peace, July 23), when last Gershon Baskin approached Gaza, it was, according to him, to be instrumental in securing the exchange of Gilad Schalit in return for more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners.
That decision has so far cost six Israeli lives, with no sure end in sight for further terrorist acts from the ex-prisoners.
I pray that Mr. Baskin’s further attempts at influence will not cause additional Israeli casualties.
Tel Aviv
I was drinking my morning coffee and reading The Jerusalem Post when, suddenly, I started screaming “By George, he’s got it!” My wife came running. I read aloud to her, especially where Gershon Baskin writes: “The goal for Israel and its allies, including the Palestinian Authority, must be the decommissioning of weapons in Gaza....” She was amazed and flabbergasted. “Brilliant!” she couldn’t stop saying.
It is such an obvious solution that I cannot understand why nobody ever thought about it before. US Secretary of State John Kerry apparently wasted a whole year trying to find a solution to our conflict with the Palestinians without mentioning Gaza disarmament.
The countries that donated money for the reconstruction of Gaza never thought about it. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas never proposed it.
But Baskin’s proposal has one tiny flaw: Hamas might not favor the idea of solving the conflict by putting down its weapons.
Yes we can
Thanks to Herb Keinon for pointing out many of the advantages of not folding on the Iran deal (“Playing tuba in a string quartet,” Analysis, July 22).
Members of the US Congress – Republicans and quite a few Democrats – would feel abandoned if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were to retreat with his tail between his legs and, even worse, sell out for a larger bowl of military assistance porridge.
The 2016 American presidential campaign is already upon the country. Only Israel’s united and staunch opposition to this agreement, a danger to the whole world, can assure that it becomes a principal focus of political debate there for at least the next year. This is true even if Congress does not succeed in overriding the threatened presidential veto.
Paraphrasing President Barack Obama’s own campaign slogan, a resounding rebuff should go forth from Jerusalem: “Yes we can!” AARON BRAUNSTEIN J
The writer is a retired US foreign service officer.
Obama’s blunders in foreign policy culminated in the signing of the nuclear agreement with Iran in Vienna after all his failures with regard to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, Yemen, Syria, etc.
Finally, his legacy is crystal clear: He will be remembered as the worst president in the history of the United States.
All for Adelson
People must understand that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is only trying to increase his chances of being reelected, with help from US casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson.
In America, Adelson supports the Republican Party. Therefore, everything Netanyahu is saying regarding the Iranian issue is essentially aimed at reducing the Democrats’ chances in the next US presidential elections.
Iran is not planning to build a nuclear bomb from enriched uranium. It would be too heavy for missiles to carry. This is common knowledge to all. It is happy, for now, to be considered a state with nuclear capabilities.
Of course, if it gets a chance to build plutonium bombs, it might reconsider.
The real issue here is Netanyahu’s enthusiasm to help Adelson and the Republicans.
Haifa Reader
Earl Beal (“Readers continue to speak out on Iran deal,” Letters, July 22) makes a lot of sense compared to the almost mass hysteria generated and encouraged by our prime minister.
Benjamin Netanyahu knows full well that the deal with Iran is a done deal, and his ranting can only do damage to Israel on the world stage. I can only guess that he is motivated by his obsessive dislike of US President Barack Obama and his equally obsessive support for the American Republican Party.
What is obvious is that Obama is trying to move the world away from the warring confrontations of the past and give diplomacy a chance. Netanyahu does not begin to understand that the concept of political dialogue is about trying to come to terms with your enemies, and that this involves give and take.
Our prime minister is now an isolated figure on the world stage, although here in Israel he has managed to divert a lot of attention from the real issues that concern us.
Turning them off
Israel is in critical need of additional olim in the magnitude of the aliya from the former Soviet Union of the 1990s. Our exports to Europe are being stopped by sanctions, so an augmented home market will keep our industry intact. However, statements being made in Israel could discourage responsible people from settling here.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has for many years vociferously proclaimed his sole mantra of the pending annihilation of Israel by a nuclear Iran. This is in contradiction to the unfulfilled threats of a boisterous, nuclear North Korea and a pro-Taliban nuclear Pakistan.
Adding to the doubts is the picture of dire poverty, including thousands of starving children, fostered by the Central Bureau of Statistics’s false and arbitrary line of poverty. That picture is exploited by many organizations with well-paid staffs that solicit funds overseas.
We must do tremendously more to encourage aliya and plan seriously the absorption of future olim.
Ramat Gan