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Made-in-Israel label is hard to sell

By Ora Coren, 23 April 2002

Importers of Israeli goods, particularly in Egypt and other North African countries, have stepped up requests that the products be sold without a tag indicating their origination.

An Israeli manufacturer recently received a similar request from an importer in India.

Although these requests have been sporadic, manufacturers believe this is a trend that is likely to intensify due to escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Rachel Ro'i, a top foreign trade official at the Industry and Trade Ministry, said that two major local companies recently appealed to an Israeli commercial attache in India, asking for help with local merchants on the matter.

One of the companies, a communications equipment manufacturer, said it was asked to remove all signs that its products are made in Israel. The other company told the attache it is being discriminated against for political reasons in a tender bid on an Indian government project.

Chairman of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, Dan Gillerman, said importers and exporters are having particular problems selling Israeli-made goods in Europe. He said that with the threat of an arms embargo against Israel, Italy has stopped sending guns used with police robots. Spain has stopped a shipment of fireworks that were to be used on Independence Day on the grounds that they can be used for military purposes, Gillerman said.

The Manufacturers' Association said it had received 10 complaints from exporters who are having trouble selling Israeli goods in Scandinavia. All of them reported they had received letters from their buyers saying they are having an increasingly-difficult time marketing Israeli goods due to anti-Israel public sentiment. Exporters fear the Scandinavian market may dry up completely.

The Industry and Trade Ministry's foreign trade department has set up a team that will stay in constant contact, and consult, with commercial attaches abroad.