Israel to end free trade deal with Turkey in retaliatory move over Gaza war

Israel to end free trade deal with Turkey in retaliatory move over Gaza war
Israel said it will also impose a 100% tariff on other imports from Turkey in retaliation for Ankara's decision to put an end to exports over the Gaza war.
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Turkey has sharply criticised Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war [Getty/file photo]

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich on Thursday said Israel would abolish its free trade agreement with Turkey and also impose a 100 percent tariff on other imports from Turkey in retaliation for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan's decision to halt exports to Israel.

The plan, he said, would be submitted to the cabinet for approval.

Earlier this month, Turkey said it was stopping exports to Israel during the duration of Israel's deadly war in Gaza citing "worsening humanitarian tragedy" in the Palestinian territories. But the Turkish Trade Ministry has said that companies have three months to fulfil existing orders via third countries.

"His (Erdogan's) announcement of the stoppage of imports to Israel constitutes a declaration of an economic boycott and a serious violation of international trade agreements to which Turkey has committed," Smotrich said in a statement.

He noted that Israel's actions would only last as long as Erdogan remained in power.

"If at the end of Erdogan's term the citizens of Turkey elect a leader who is sane and not a hater of Israel, it would be possible to return the trade route with Turkey," Smotrich said.

Under Smotrich's plan, all the reduced customs rates applicable to goods imported from Turkey to Israel according to an agreement to the free trade deal would be abolished. At the same time, a duty would be imposed on any product imported from Turkey to Israel at a rate of 100 percent of the value of the goods in addition to the existing duty rate.

The finance, economy and foreign ministries, the statement said, would also take steps to strengthen Israel's manufacturing while diversifying sources of import to reduce the dependency on Turkey.

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Israel's Manufacturers' Association called Smotrich's plan "an appropriate response" for not allowing Erdogan to damage the economy without a response.

Turkey has been a staunch critic of Israel's military offensive in Gaza, with Erdogan calling  Israel a "terror state", saying it was "committing war crimes and violating international law in Gaza" and called for Israeli leaders to be tried for war crimes at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

In December, Erdogan said that there was "no difference" between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Adolf Hitler.