S.Africa wants change in import labels, angers Israel

Mon May 21, 2012 1:47pm GMT

By Wendell Roelf

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Israeli goods produced in the occupied Palestinian territories and sold in South Africa may no longer be labelled "Made in Israel," the South African trade minister said on Monday, causing concern in Israel that other countries may follow suit.

"We are, through this notice, requiring that they be correctly labelled and it will then be up to consumers in South Africa whether they want to purchase those products or not," Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies told reporters.

"We are not seeking to prevent the entry of such products into South Africa," he said.

South Africa's trade with Israel is modest, but there is concern in Israel about broader economic and political damage.

A labelling change would bolster an international campaign by pro-Palestinian activists for a boycott of products made by Israeli factories in the West Bank, territory Israel captured in the 1967 war and which Palestinians want as part of a future state.

"If this will move to other places in the world, we will be in big trouble," Israeli Industry and Trade Minister Shalom Simhon told reporters before Davies's news conference.

The demand for a change in labelling was published in the government gazette earlier this month in a statement that said traders must not "incorrectly label products that originate from the Occupied Palestinian Territory" as products made in Israel.

It did not say when the change must be made, but added that "the burden of proving where the products originate will lie with traders."   Continued...

South African President Jacob Zuma (L) and South African Trade Minister Rob Davies during the China-South Africa Business Forum in Beijing, August 24, 2010. REUTERS/David Gray
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