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Saudis Ban Cos. Over Israel Imports

August 5, 2002

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) _ Saudi Arabia has blacklisted about 200 foreign companies during the past 10 months for importing $150 million of Israeli products into the oil-rich kingdom, a Saudi trade official said Monday.

Ahmed al-Ouda, a counselor in the kingdom’s Commerce Chamber, told The Associated Press that the companies _ mostly Jordanian and Cypriot _ forged certificates of origin of Israeli products in order to bring them into the Saudi market.

Al-Ouda said the companies _ including 72 from Jordan, 70 from Cyprus, 23 from Egypt and 11 from Turkey _ will not be able to trade in Saudi again. The other banned companies come from the United States, Britain, Singapore, Thailand, Portugal and Poland.

He did not name any of the banned companies or give the exact number of companies blacklisted.

Al-Ouda said Saudi authorities verified the goods originated in Israel after making checks on items imported by the companies, which include vegetables, seeds, mobile phones and other electronic devices.

About $300 million worth of Israeli goods were imported to Gulf countries during the last 10 months, al-Ouda said, with about half that amount entering Saudi Arabia.

An Arab League boycott has been in place since 1951, banning companies that do business with Israel from dealing with Arab nations. But the boycott, which once listed more than 8,500 companies and people from Coca-Cola to the Ford Motor Co., has not been active for almost a decade.

Recently, however, boycott calls have risen because of the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli violence.

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