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Israel

Volume 403: debated on Thursday 10 April 2003

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in relation to the written ministerial statement by the Economic Secretary on 3 April on duty on goods imported into the European Union which originate from Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories, whether the standard Israeli reply referred to, sent in response to verification requests for the origin of goods, will be taken as adequate reason to suspect that goods may have originated in Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories and for the customs debt to be applied. [108024]

As my statement on 3 April 2003, Official Report, column 68WS, made clear, the standard Israeli reply is insufficient to determine the real origin of the goods, or to dispel the reasonable doubt as to their entitlement to preferential duty rates under the EU/Israel Association Agreement. Preference is therefore being refused and HM Customs and Excise have now begun issuing duty demands.

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the rates of customs duty applied to non-EU countries which import goods to the UK, with particular reference to the duty on goods imported from Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. [108034]

A comprehensive list of customs duty rates applied to all goods imported to the UK is published in HM Customs and Excise Tariff, a copy of which is being laid in the Library of the House. Preferential duty rates on goods imported from the State of Israel are specified in the EU/Israel Association Agreement. As my written ministerial statement of 3 April 2003, Official Report, column 68WS, made clear, goods produced in the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are not eligible for preferential duty rates under this agreement.The average full duty rate for goods under verification, where Customs have reasonable doubt as to their eligibility for preferential duty rates under the EU/Israel Association agreement, is 4.1 per cent.Details of duty rates applied to particular goods under verification cannot be disclosed, as this could lead to the identification of individual importers; Exemption 13 (third party's commercial confidences) of Open Government Code applies.