The government is hoping that a reform to the import of household electrical appliances set to go into effect Thursday will help widen consumer choice and bring down Israel’s spiraling cost of living.
The reform allows Israel to adopt the regulatory standards in force in the European Union, diminishing the stranglehold of the Israel Standards Institute.
The institute was set up before the establishment of the State of Israel to protect the country’s nascent industries from foreign competition.
By setting its own standards for a wide range of consumer items, the Standards Institute has long played a key role in keeping prices high.
To date, importers of electrical appliances have had to undergo physical inspections of their goods by an approved laboratory to assess compliance with the Israeli standard before the goods could enter the country. The process has led to containers having to wait at the ports for weeks.
From Thursday, the Standards Institute will allow the entry of products with EU certification. Importers will have to declare that the product meets the European legal requirements and provide the Energy Ministry with documentary proof. The port checks will be replaced by a system of surprise safety checks in stores. The hope is that new importers will enter the market and that competition will force prices down.
Among the items to benefit from the reform will be refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, ovens and microwave ovens, air conditioners, televisions, light fixtures, light bulbs, IT equipment such as computers, servers and printers, and audio equipment.
The Economy Ministry expects savings of seven percent on shipments of goods that meet EU standards.
Asked why US standards were not named in the reform, an Energy Ministry spokesman explained that most American products meet EU regulations.
From Thursday, appliances will also carry a new energy efficiency rating label to enable consumers to choose products that least harm the environment.
The Energy Ministry expects that the move will lead to the saving of 200 gigawatt-hours of electricity from as early as 2025, and 1,200 gigawatt-hours in 2030.
Energy Minister Karine Elharrar said the reform will significantly ease the process of importing electrical products into Israel, will reduce costs, and increase competition in the field and the variety of products. At the same time, the reform is expected to bring more energy-efficient products to Israel, and hence it is expected to lead to economic savings in electricity.
“The reform is a significant step in promoting energy efficiency in the economy, which will help the government’s efforts to meet the (carbon-related) emission reduction goals it committed to at the [2021 United Nations COP26] climate conference,” she said.
The move forms part of a broader reform led by the Economy Ministry to recognize international standards on a range of goods, from children’s products (among them toys for children over the age of 3, baby carriages, beds and cribs, swings and high chairs), leisure and sports products, various products for the home, and optical items.
Products that will still have to go through the old Israel Standards Institute route include equipment used in gas systems, power cables for low and medium voltage, solar boilers, thermostats, fire detection and extinguishing equipment, playground equipment, toys for children aged under 3, pacifiers and nipples, and baby bottles and tableware.