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Israel to abolish free trade deal with Turkey, impose 100% tariff on imports

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The Arab Weekly | 17 May 2024

Israel to abolish free trade deal with Turkey, impose 100% tariff on imports

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich on Thursday said Israel would abolish its free trade agreement with Turkey and also impose a 100% tariff on other imports from Turkey in retaliation for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to halt exports to Israel.

The plan, he said, would be submitted to the cabinet for approval.

Earlier this month, Turkey said it was stopping exports to Israel during the duration of the Israel-Hamas war, citing “worsening humanitarian tragedy” in the Palestinian territories. But the Turkish Trade Ministry has said that companies have three months to fulfill existing orders via third countries.

Pressured by public anger at home against the war in Gaza, Ankara has been forced to take tangible measures against Israel. It has however maintained formal relations with the Jewish state.

“His (Erdogan’s) announcement of the stoppage of imports to Israel constitutes a declaration of an economic boycott and a serious violation of international trade agreements to which Turkey has committed,” Smotrich said in a statement.

He noted that Israel’s actions would only last as long as Erdogan remained in power.

“If at the end of Erdogan’s term the citizens of Turkey elect a leader who is sane and not a hater of Israel, it would be possible to return the trade route with Turkey,” Smotrich said.

Under Smotrich’s plan, all the reduced customs rates applicable to goods imported from Turkey to Israel according to an agreement to the free trade deal would be abolished. At the same time, a duty would be imposed on any product imported from Turkey to Israel at a rate of 100% of the value of the goods in addition to the existing duty rate.

The finance, economy and foreign ministries, the statement said, would also take steps to strengthen Israel’s manufacturing while diversifying sources of import to reduce the dependency on Turkey.

Israel’s Manufacturers’ Association called Smotrich’s plan “an appropriate response” for not allowing Erdogan to damage the economy without a response.

 source: The Arab Weekly