It is now abundantly clear that the US government and the World Trade Organization are engaged in a deliberate effort to subvert their own laws and regulations. In earlier articles we reported that Saudi Arabia is continuing the boycott against Israel despite promises to the contrary when it joined the WTO.
Now it is "discovered" that another Arab country, Oman, also observes the Arab boycott.
Oman is awaiting congressional approval for a Free Trade Status deal, which officially requires that it end the boycott, but US officials are ignoring reality.
As in the Saudi boycott, US officials insisted that Oman does not observe the boycott. US Trade Representative Rob Portman asserted:
"Oman does not apply the Arab League boycott of Israel."
Everyone knows however, that Oman does observe the boycott, or at least says it does. A senior Omani customs official said:
"No products from Israel are allowed...If it is a personal item or two, they will probably not check. But if it is for marketing or to sell, then it is not allowed,"
Periodically, Gulf newspapers report "scandals" in which contraband Israeli goods are confiscated by customs authorities. The issue is complicated by some earlier declarations (in 1994) that the boycotts were being eased. In 2002, Arab countries renewed the boycott, which had never really ended.
The United States government is perfectly well away of the ongoing boycott. The US Bureau of Industry and Security lists some recent trade conditions that are illegal boycott requests at their Web site. The examples are very interesting:
Prohibited Condition in a Tender
"The supplier must comply with the Israel boycott conditions."
Prohibited Condition in a Tender
"All goods to be supplied as a part of this order must comply with the Israel boycott rules stipulated by the Royal Oman Police."
Prohibited Condition in purchase order
"The vendor must ensure that all products supplied do not contravene the regulations in force with regard to the boycott of Israel."
Prohibited Boycott Condition in a Contract
"Vendor shall comply with the Israel boycott laws in performing his contractual obligations."
Prohibited Boycott Condition in a Contract
"The seller warrants that no supplier or manufacturer or any part of the product is precluded from doing business with Saudi Arabia under the terms of the Arab boycott regulations."
Reportable Boycott Condition in list of documents required by a freight forwarder
"Certificate from insurance company stating that they are not blacklisted."
Note that these are "secondary boycott" conditions. Of course they could not be observed literally. One of the documents states, from the UAE states:
"Documents to accompany tenders [include] the declaration and Israel boycott certificate. It states the tenderer must accompany his offer with the following, written signed declaration. ĎWe declare that we are a company which is not owned by any companies that have violated the approved rules of the boycott and that we do not own or participate in companies that are in violation of the approved rules of the boycott. Further, we do not have, nor does any of the companies that are considered to be a parent company or a branch of ours, any dealings with any Israeli party, whether directly or indirectly. Furthermore, a certificate issued by the Israel boycott office in UAE confirming that neither the supplier nor the manufacturer are blacklisted, should also be accompanied.
If the boycott was really enforced, none of these countries could use computers with Intel Pentium CPUs or with Motorola CPUs, nor could they use Microsoft Windows or Caterpillar tractor equipment or HP printers or Lexmark printers or any one of dozens of other products from large US and European firms. They could not buy aircraft from Boeing. In fact, they would probably have to opt out of the Twenty-first century.
Nonetheless, the boycott certainly exists and prevents trade with Israel. Right now Oman is up for a free trade deal aimed at eliminating tarrifs and other barriers to trade, which awaits congressional approval. Concerned U.S. citizens can write to their congresspersons and ask them to "Just Say No" to the boycott. Probably the mythical "Israel Lobby" will make no headway against the very real petroleum lobby, but there is no harm in trying.
Jun. 8, 2006 7:06
Boycott of Israel still in effect, Omani official tells 'Post'
By MICHAEL FREUND
Five months after signing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US, Oman continues to restrict the import of Israeli-made goods despite a pledge made to the US that it would not boycott the Jewish state, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
"No, no. Products from Israel are not permitted because of the boycott," Mohammad Nasser of Oman's Directorate General of Customs said by phone. "If someone brings products from Israel, they will be confiscated. You might put yourself in problems if you do that," he said.
Nasser noted that the customs department was merely following rules that had been laid down by Oman's government, which he said were in line with the "Arab League ban" on Israel.
He added that even catalogs of commercial products that mention Israel would likely be seized by Omani customs authorities.
In January, Oman's Minister of Commerce and Industry Maqbool bin Ali Sultan and US Trade Representative Rob Portman signed a free trade deal aimed at eliminating tariffs and other barriers to trade. The deal now awaits final Congressional approval before taking effect, though a number of Democrats have expressed concern over Oman's labor practices.
As part of the talks, Oman had assured the US that it was not enforcing the Arab boycott, and a press release issued by Portman's office to mark the signing asserted that, "Oman does not apply the Arab League boycott of Israel." But a senior customs official at Oman's largest airport insisted by phone that the Gulf Arab sultanate continues to bar entry to Israeli-made goods.
"No products from Israel are allowed," said Badr al-Mawari, chief of customs officers at Seeb International Airport outside Muscat, the Omani capital. "If it is a personal item or two, they will probably not check. But if it is for marketing or to sell, then it is not allowed," he said.
Al-Mawari insisted that goods found to have been made in Israel would be impounded. "When you leave the country, you might get it back," he said.
In 1996 Oman and Israel agreed to open respective trade missions in the two countries, but they were later closed after the Palestinians launched the second intifada in October 2000.
The Omani policy of boycotting Israeli-made goods appears to run counter to its obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization, which it joined six years ago. The international body requires its members to refrain from engaging in discriminatory trade practices, such as boycotts, against fellow member states.
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