HC Deb 12 January 1998 vol 304 cc21-2W
Dr. Starkey

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what undertakings were given by Israel at the meeting with EU officials on 28 November in respect of doubts concerning the validity of preferential certificates on imports labelled "Made" in Israel; how these undertakings related to the suspension of inquiries concerning some manufactured goods; and how these undertakings differed from past assurances relating to goods now known to have been falsely described. [22196]

Mr. Doug Henderson

At the meeting on 28 November 1997 with the European Commission, Israel undertook to provide copies of current internal legislation relevant to ensure the implementation of the origin and mutual assistance protocols annexed to the EC/Israel Interim Agreement and in particular the obligation on Israeli customs to ensure the correct application of the rules of origin. Israel has acknowledged that prior to 1 January 1996, national legislation had prevented the implementation of control mechanisms envisaged in the agreement, and has agreed to verify the originating status of all orange juice exported to the EC since 6 June 1995.

The Commission had previously expressed concern that Israeli national legislation was so structured that the proper checking of certificates of origin was not taking place in respect of goods exported to the European Community under the Preferential Trade Agreement. This led the Commission to publish a warning to importers in the Official Journal on 8 November 1997, and to preparations being made by HM Customs and Excise for inquiries into a range of Israeli manufactured products. In the light of the undertakings now given by Israel, Customs felt it appropriate to suspend those inquiries.