Importers Called in by Ministry to Explain High Prices

YERUSHALAYIM
Importers, Ministry, High Prices
Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Years of complaints about the exorbitant prices Israelis pay for consumer products compared to prices for the same products abroad have led the Israeli government to demand explanations from some of the importers.

Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen (Kulanu) has given Unilever, Schestowitz, and Diplomat until mid-May to justify their price levels on toiletries and cleaning materials, Globes reported on Wednesday, citing “sources.”

A ministry survey found two and three-digit percentage price differentials between prices in Israel and Europe and the U.S. for such items as razor blades, toothpaste and deodorants.

Typically, when accused in the past of gouging Israeli consumers, the importers have blamed the retail outlets for the high prices, who have in turn insisted that they must charge so much because of what the importers are charging them. Since, by law, the importers cannot publish a recommended retail price, it has been difficult to assign blame with any certainty.

“In view of the findings, and before publishing them, the ministry invited the official importers to comment on these differences. These comments will constitute a platform for a verbal hearing that will take place in the office of the Ministry of Economy and Industry director general within a month,” the Ministry said.

Cohen himself expressed it somewhat differently: “Concerning importers who are exploiting their exclusivity in representing international brands to charge high prices, we will identify the market failures and change them. The Israeli consumer will no longer be a sucker; I won’t let others make a profit at his expense.”

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