Schumer, Graham Introduce Legislation to Strengthen US Active Opposition to Trade Boycotts of Israel


schumerYesterday, Senators Charles E. Schumer and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) introduced the Boycott Disclosure Act of 2009 that aims to strengthen the United States’ active opposition to the trade boycotts of Israel. The Senators noted that trade boycotts of Israel create barriers for economic development and peace efforts in the Middle East.

The Administration is required by statute to report on the status of these boycotts, but to date these annual reports have been insufficient. The Boycott Disclosure Act of 2009 (S. 1671) reinforces disclosure by requiring the Administration to provide a more comprehensive report on the countries participating in and the nature of the formal and informal trade boycotts of Israel.

“This bill will go a long way towards ending discriminatory trade boycotts against Israel that are frustrating efforts to bring peace to the Middle East,” Schumer said. “Our proposal will shine a light on the activities of countries engaging in these boycotts, and improve the administration’s ability to respond.”

“The President has emphasized the importance of achieving a comprehensive peace among Israel and her neighbors,” said Graham. “An important part of that effort should include full repeal of the trade boycotts of Israel by Israel’s neighbors. These boycotts are an impediment to improving economic ties between Israelis and the other peoples of the Middle East. The more transparency we can bring to these boycotts the sooner we can bring them to an end. Unfortunately, current government reporting on the trade boycotts of Israel is incomplete. Our bill will close the gap and brings attention to the full scope of this issue.”

Active opposition to the trade boycott of Israel continues to be the long-standing policy of the United States. The trade boycott of Israel hinders economic and political engagement between Israel and her neighbors, creating a barrier to peace efforts in the Middle East, and is inconsistent with the non-discrimination principles of the World Trade Organization. Yet, many WTO members continue to boycott Israel. In addition, U.S. law requires that U.S. taxpayers report official requests to comply with a boycott of Israel to the Department of the Treasury.

Improving transparency with respect to the boycott of Israel will enhance efforts to end the trade boycott of Israel as well as assist U.S. taxpayers in complying with U.S. laws. While the Administration is required by statute to report on the status of the trade boycott of Israel, to date, this disclosure has been incomplete. The Boycott of Israel Disclosure Act of 2009 will improve disclosure of the trade boycott of Israel through more thorough and consistent reporting.

Specifically, the legislation will close existing loopholes by requiring the Administration to strengthen its annual report by including a comprehensive list of countries participating in any formal or informal trade boycott of Israel and with respect to those listed boycotting countries:

· A determination whether officials of a boycotting country are attending boycott meetings in an official capacity and whether a listed country maintains an office for the purpose of enforcing a boycott of Israel;

· A summary of each listed country’s laws enforcing the boycott of Israel and whether there have been any recent changes to those laws;

· An indication whether a country’s laws or practices are such that they may lead a U.S. taxpayer to reasonably conclude that the taxpayer may be asked to comply with a boycott of Israel;

· A determination as to whether a listed country encourages its citizens to boycott Israel through such government-sponsored actions as marketing campaigns directed against goods of Israeli origin;

· A determination whether a listed country’s actions supporting a trade boycott of Israel have had an impact on U.S. exports containing Israeli-made content or whether those actions have had an identifiable impact on U.S. investments in Israel.

{Noam Newscenter}