Wrong labels could end up in court
16 Sep 2012
It is against the law to label the products of Palestine as those of Israel, and the Portfolio Committee of Trade and Industry has heard that government will fight any court action against this decision.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, told members of the Committee: “It is in our interest to make sure that the labelling is correct and in line with South Africa’s foreign policies. We are not unused to litigation.”
Dr Davies said consumers in South Africa should not be misled into believing that products originating from the occupied territories of Palestine were products originating from Israel. The Minister had been vigorously questioned by some members of the Committee on the necessity for the regulations, which have already been endorsed by Cabinet.
Dr Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, a Committee Member, questioned statements that South Africa was under a legal obligation to do so. According to him, this was a policy decision. “If we do it here why do we not do it for the Chinese-occupied Tibet? What is there to gain for South Africa from this? Why bother?” he wanted to know.
Dr Davies said he was not aware of any court actions, although there had been threats to this effect. Dr Ambrosini assured him that some legal action had already been started.
Mr Graham McIntosh, another Committee Member, said Israel was a useful and vibrant trading partner and he questioned whether this was a wise move in terms of trade relations.
Dr Davies assured the Committee that South Africa was not unique in its decision. Certain companies in Switzerland were already implementing such measures and Denmark and England were considering them.
Committee member Mr Xitlhangoma Mabasa said South Africa had to act in a way to advance its own economic interest, but it also had to advance world peace.
Dr Davies indicated two principles were defined: “It must conform to South African foreign policy: we have a one-China policy and we do not apologise for that. Tibet does not count.”
He compared it to measures against Apartheid South Africa. “Were they not political? There is a principle at stake. Products do not conform to our foreign policy if they are labelled something that they are not. Someone has raised it with us and we have an obligation to respond.”
Issued by: Parliament of South Africa
16 Sep 2012
[ Top ]