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The Trade and Industry Ministry will today announce the end of all restrictions on steel imports. This is likely to significantly cut steel prices in Israel and could give a welcome boost to the struggling construction industry.

A panel commissioned by director general Amir Hayek found that quotas for Turkish steel imports (210,000 tons a year) should be removed, but then recommended replacing the quota with a low financial levy, or increasing the quota significantly.

Hayek rejected this proposal since the situation today is far different than it was one-and-a-half years ago when the quotas were imposed. Then, world steel prices were lower and the steel plant in Acre was still operating. Prices have since risen and the Acre plant has closed, so the quota is no longer protecting any home manufacturer.

There has also been a scam running among companies winning import quota licenses - buying steel cheaply in Turkey and selling it for far higher prices once it arrived in the country. The profits were split with Turkish manufacturers.