The Israel Antitrust Authority (IAA), the independent government enforcement agency tasked with regulating mergers and preventing cartels from dominating Israel's economy, weighs declaring the Haifa and Ashdod port companies monopolistic. The IAA, is vested with the power to initiate civil and criminal proceedings and to order monopolies to refrain from acting in a manner which constitutes abuse of dominant position.
Israel Antitrust Authority head Prof. David Gilo has sent letters inviting Haifa Port Co. Ltd. and Ashdod Port Co. Ltd. to a hearing ahead of declaring them an oligopoly in unloading and loading containers and general cargo. The two state-owned seaports are notoriously subject to frequent work stoppages and slowdowns because of the enormous strength of their unions. Prof. Gilo also warned the workers committees of the two ports not to harm the privatization process, and that the two ports companies would not be permitted to operate the planned new container terminal which will be built in the port of Ashdod or Haifa.
Minister of Economy and Trade Naftali Bennett, expressed satisfaction that the Antitrust Authority has decided to warn the ports of Haifa and Ashdod that they may be declared an oligopoly. The minister noted on his Facebook page that the measures represented a "small step for ports reform -- but a big step for competition in Israel. This is a bold and important move. It will take a number of years before we feel the significance of its impact, but it's coming -- better service, greater efficiency, lower operating costs, things that will lead to lower prices and make life easier for exporters.."
A hearing will be held before a formal declaration is made.