New Law Would Give ‘Sole Importers’ Competition

Economy Minister Eli Cohen. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

A law that would prohibit the existence of “sole importers” was approved for further legislation by the Ministerial Law Committee. The bill, proposed by Economy Minister Eli Cohen, would allow the Economy Minister to suspend or override contracts that restrict competitors from importing specific items into Israel for at least three years, with the possibility of extending the order for another three years.

The objective of the law is to enable competitors to import name-brand goods from sources other than that which the Israeli licensee of a product is required to import from. Most Israeli importers get their goods from European distributors, and often are able to make a deal to be the sole importer of a product into the country.

Such contracts restrict others from importing goods from the same or other distributors, allowing the sole importer to set a monopolistic price – leading to substantial differences between the price of a product in Israel, and its price elsewhere. The law would prevent that situation from continuing by allowing any importer to strike an import deal with any distributor, and even enable authorities to suspend contracts between importers and distributors, if warranted.

“Importers take advantage of their status as sole importer, making international brands more expensive in Israel than elsewhere,” said Cohen. “This makes the cost of living intolerably higher for Israelis. The Economy Ministry, as well as other authorities, will continue to push this legislation, which will substantially reduce the cost of living.”

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