Foreign Ministry to help limit product-labeling damage

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israel Export Institute recently established a mechanism to assist and support exporters from Judea-Samaria and the Golan Heights who will be adversely affected as a result of product labeling outside of Israel.

The establishment of the mechanism was decided at a recent meeting initiated by Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, with the participation of her office’s economics division chief Yaffa Ben Ari, the Israeli Export Institute chairman Ramzi Gabbai and the Institute’s CEO Ofer Zachs. The discussion concluded that so far not many exporters have been affected, but those who complained about having been affected reported significant losses and the closure of markets.

It was decided that the Foreign Ministry will call on all affected exporters to contact the ministry. The ministry intends to hold a roundtable discussion with the representatives of the Israel Export Institute and exporters from Judea-Samaria and the Golan who have been or will be affected by labeling. The purpose of the meeting is to formulate ideas on how to help exporters on topics such as export diversification and the assistance envelope accompanying the export procedure.

The idea is to that exporters from Judea and Samaria who are affected may turn to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israel Export Institute and these would have to help him find an alternative market for his products. Representatives of the Israel Export Institute opposed the idea to set up trade fairs at the initiative of Israeli embassies in Europe to sell products from Judea and Samaria.

Hotovely said during the meeting that “the Foreign Ministry will do its utmost to assist exporters to minimize the damage to them by labeling of their products. If, for example, an exporter from Judea-Samaria reports that no one is buying dates or peppers from the Jordan Valley or vegetables and wine from the Samaria region, the Foreign Ministry and the Israel Export Institute will help him find new markets in Japan, China or India – countries that do not label products. In addition, the exporter will receive assistance in opening doors to other opportunities.”

Hotovely also said that “the idea is to prove that the process of labeling products is a failure and that the exporter’s sales will not be hurt. We will help exporters in pinpoint fashion. We will find a unique solution to every exporter who turns to us to point us and help him diversify his exports and and market his product.”

The leader of Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights Jewish communities received a letter from Hotovely’s office stating that “as part of efforts of the Deputy Foreign Minister to combat product labeling by the European Union, she and the Foreign Ministry are currently working to encourage the purchase of goods from Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights. I request that you refer to me as soon as possible exporters located in areas under your responsibility so that we can help them.”

Last November, the European Commission in Brussels approved the decision taken two months earlier to label products from Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem: The products will be labeled as follows: ‘product of the West Bank (Israeli settlement)’ or ‘product of the Golan Heights (Israeli settlement)’. In the decision it was explained that if the label would state ‘from the produce of the West Bank’ or ‘from the produce of the Golan Heights’ this would be misleading and therefore it is necessary to add in parenthesis – an Israeli settlement.