Israeli importers assure public Turkish products can be replaced, for a price

Despite ban on imports and exports to Israel imposed by Turkish president, Israeli importers claim that there is no expected shortage of products but consumers will pay more; Economy Ministry senior official: 'Israel will cope and find alternatives, Turkey is the one affected by the embargo'
Navit Zomer|
After Turkey confirmed that it banned imports and exports to Israel, suppliers do not foresee shortages. "There are alternatives to Turkey, but prices are expected to rise, and it's not clear by how much," says Ilan Sheva, CEO of Bikurey Hasade, a major fruits and vegetables importer and distributor in Israel, which imports tomatoes from Turkey.
Turks calling death to Israel
"Since October 7 and the consequent blow to Israeli agriculture in the Gaza-border communities, the farmers bounced back. Foreign workers are returning, farmers have received compensation and grants from the state, and I see that there will be no shortage of tomatoes. We haven't been importing tomatoes from Turkey for a month now. The silver lining in the embargo is that Israeli vegetable growers will return to grow because they won't face the threat of cheap Turkish tomatoes," said Sheva.
Oded Guri, co-CEO of Guri A.A.O Ltd., an importer of toiletries, cleaning products and food, also says there are solutions. "I spoke with suppliers from Turkey and no one really knows what's going on. We import from Turkey napkins, soaps, olive oil and more. Two trucks of Turkish olive oil were supposed to arrive next week. We won't be damaged from the embargo because there will be other solutions. For example, imports from Eastern Europe, but it's certain that it will be more expensive. A lot of olive oil comes from Turkey, and now we'll need to bring oil from Spain, which is about 20% more expensive. It's just a matter of price."
'The Turkish embargo is not a big deal for us because there are alternatives from all over Europe'
"The Turkish embargo is not a big deal for us because there are alternatives from all over Europe. So washing machines will not be sold from Turkey but from Poland and China. Devices have alternatives. The supply in Israel in the electrical and home electronics sector is very diverse. We are currently fully stocked, and consumers are not shopping as much after the big Passover discounts. I'm not necessarily sure that the embargo will lead to a significant price increase because even today most electrical products do not come from Turkey," said Yoram Badash, CEO of Mahsanei Hashmal, a chain that sells electrical appliances.

Turkey is hurting itself

Roey Fisher, Trade Commissioner and head of the Foreign Trade Administration in the Economy Ministry, said that "those punished by Erdogan's embargo on Israel are Turkish citizens, whose economic situation is very bad with an inflation rate of almost 70% and high unemployment rates. Giving up $6.8 billion in exports to Israel is hurting themselves and Erdogan's blow to Turkey's economy and citizens. Israel is expected to cope and find alternatives even if shipping costs us more. There will be damage to Israeli exports, and we will concentrate efforts to find alternatives for export at a cost of about $2 billion to Turkey."
"The absurdity is that a Turkish representative is giving a speech at the OECD conference, explaining Turkey's commitment to the organization's principles. Erdogan is carrying out a flagrant and blatant violation, almost unprecedented, of Israel's trade agreements and those of the World Trade Organization."
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הפגנה נגד ישראל באיסטנבול
הפגנה נגד ישראל באיסטנבול
Anti-Israel protest in Istanbul
(Photo: AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
The World Trade Organization has the tools to act against Turkey due to its violation of trade agreements, but it is a complex process that may not be sufficient. Tariffs may be problematic because they would affect other countries which would harm Israel in the long run.

Israel is formulating an economic response to the embargo

Foreign Minister Israel Katz convened on Friday the "Turkey Team" in his office to discuss Israel's response to the embargo. The team includes the director-general of the Foreign Ministry and other senior officials from the Economy Ministry and the Tax Authority.
The response to Turkey will include severing all economic ties between Turkey and the Palestinian Authority and Gaza, appealing to international economic organizations to intensify measures against Turkey for violating trade agreements, finding alternative commerce solutions and assisting affected Israeli export sectors.
Economy Minister Nir Barkat met in Paris with the Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Matthias Cormann, and lodged an official complaint against Turkey in light of its unilateral decision to cease trade between the countries.
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