A recent court decision will result in increase import fees for kosher certified products coming into Israel according to attorneys Gil Nadel and Omer Wagner. They explain that while the court ruling addresses a specific case, there can be no doubt the case will be studied and the ruling might be applied to other imports.
The case in question surrounded a dispute between a meat imported of kosher lamb and customs officials. Customs officials’ believe the import tariff must include the price of kashrus, including sending Chief Rabbinate of Israel inspectors to the shechita location abroad. This of course significantly increases the value of the product and as a result, higher customs fees.
The importer told the court it does not believe the kashrus costs can be added to the customs fees of 50%, the price paid to import lamb. Customs argued the value of the meat is calculated by the price paid per kilogram, and even though kashrus costs are paid to a third party, the kosher certification results in an increased value of the final product imported to Israel.
The court accepted the argument from customs officials’, ruling in favor of the customs authority that the price of kosher certification, shechita and inspection are all part of the value of the meat. In addition, the importer was ordered to pay all court fees.
Attorney Nadel points out that there is still hope since the court that ruled is only a magistrate court and therefore, other courts around the country are not compelled by the decision, which may be appealed as well. However, he acknowledges that if customs officials decide to abide by the court ruling and apply it across the board to all kosher imports, the price increase in the marketplace will be extremely dramatic.
At present, importers are working with custom authority officials to reach an understanding as to how the imported meats will be charged.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)