Case C-386/08 Brita GmbH
The European Court of Justice was recently faced with the question whether Israeli goods that had been made in Jewish settlements in the West Bank could benefit from the EU-Israel Preferential Trade Agreement?
Brita is a German drinks company that imports products from an Israeli company that is based in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank. The German Customs Authority initially allowed the products to be imported under the terms of the EC-Israel Association Agreement but commenced the procedure for verification that the goods were actually “made in Israel”. The Israeli Customs Authority replied that the products originated from an area that was under Israeli Customs responsibility and as such qualified for preferential treatment. After seeking more information as to where the goods specifically originated from (which the Israeli customs authorities failed to answer) the German authorities refused preferential treatment to the goods and issued a post-clearance demand for customs duties. Brita appealed against this decision and eventually the German courts referred the issue to the ECJ.
The ECJ was faced here with a very difficult, complex and emotive issue and this case-review will certainly not go into the issues of territoriality and sovereignty under international law. However, the ECJ ruled that products originating from the West Bank did not qualify for preferential treatment under the EC-Israel agreement because the West Bank was not covered by that treaty (instead it is covered by the EC-PLO Protocol). The Court also ruled that the Israeli authorities are obliged to provide sufficient information to enable the real origin of products to be determined and the fact that they didn’t respond to the German authorities request in this case meant that Israeli origin of the products could not be proved.
If you have been or are still importing goods from Israeli companies based in the West Bank and are unsure as to whether your goods are affected by this ruling or not, please contact our team of specialists on (01905) 619229 or email us at email@example.com.