Ministers approve reform to cut bureaucratic red tape surrounding imported goods

‘What’s good for Europe is good for Israel’ program to automatically approve products with European quality standards or certification without additional regulations, cutting costs

Sharon Wrobel is a tech reporter for The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: Products on shelves at a Carrefour Israel supermarket. (Courtesy)
Illustrative: Products on shelves at a Carrefour Israel supermarket. (Courtesy)

A ministerial panel approved a reform on Thursday which will cut the extensive bureaucracy around approving goods for import and therefore ultimately lowering costs for consumers.

The ministerial committee for tackling the high cost of living unanimously approved the “What’s good for Europe is good for Israel” draft reform, allowing imported goods with European quality standards or certification to be automatically standardized, without requiring additional regulatory approval by the Standards Institution of Israel, as is currently the case.

The committee against the high cost of living was summoned to the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem to present Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the progress on the draft legislation of the import reform that is being advanced to lower prices for consumers by forgoing time-consuming local certification processes that drive up costs for importers.

“Today, the government is taking another significant step toward implementation of the ‘What’s good for Europe is good for Israel’ reform,” Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich wrote in a joint statement. “The fight against the high cost of living requires us to correct distorted norms established in Israel for many years that have perpetuated the high concentration and control of the monopolies in the market.”

The legislation will facilitate the import of dozens of consumer products, including diapers, washing powder, dishwashing liquid, computers, household appliances, cellphones, televisions, computers, kitchen appliances, stoves, baby strollers and beds, toys, washing machines and dryers, and glassware and ceramics.

The inter-ministerial committee, which includes Smotrich, and Economy Minister Nir Barkat, was formed to tackle the cost of living, as Israelis battle persistent price increases despite government promises to focus on lowering the cost of living.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Economy and Industry Minister Nir Barkat visit the Bet Shemesh branch of Carrefour Israel on May 8, 2024 ahead of its official launch. (Courtesy)

Barkat said the reform “will open the Israeli market to real competition and will lower prices.”

“Every family will be able to save NIS 500 a month and NIS 6,000 a year,” Barkat said. “We are opening Israel to tens of thousands of cheap products from Europe without barriers, without unnecessary standards, and without the control of monopolies and cartels.”

Data published in August by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) showed Israel had the highest cost of living among countries party to the organization.

In Israel, prices were 38 percent higher than the average in OECD member countries, according to the comparative index, which analyzes differences in the general price levels of countries as measured by consumer price indices and ratios of purchasing power parities to market exchange rates.

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