Measures affecting trade in intellectual property rights (relating to TRIPS)
Use without authorisation of right holder: On 18 March 2020, Israel's minister of health issued a permit to the Emergency Department at the Ministry of Health and to K.S. Kim International Ltd., to exploit a patent-protected invention by importing generic versions of lapinovir/ritonavir manufactured by Hetero in India, for the purpose of treating COVID-19 patients. The Permit states that ‘[t]he said exploitation is necessary for the maintenance of essential supply or services.
- Israel's Patent Authority fast-tracked LPV/r's approval, along with seven other medicines for the treatment of COVID-19.
Measures affecting trade in goods (relating to GATT Articles XI:2(a) XX(b))
Temporary export licensing requirements on medical equipment: on 6 May 2020 Israel informed the WTO of temporary export licensing on requirements on medical equipment (eg alcohol, face masks, medical oxygen, swabs, personal cleaning products containing ethyl/isopropyl alcohol, disinfection products, artificial respiration devices) (HS 2207; 2208; 2804.40; 3005; 3402.20; 3808.90; 6210; 6307.90; 8413; 8414; 8481.80; 9018; 9019.20; 9020), due to the COVID-19 pandemic, effective until 30 May 2020.
Temporary export licensing requirements on medical equipment: on 16 June 2020 Israel informed the WTO oftemporary export licensing requirements on medical equipment (eg alcohol, swabs, personal cleaning products containing ethyl/isopropyl alcohol, disinfection products, face masks, artificial respiration devices, and respirators) (HS 2207; 2208; 3005; 3402.20; 3808.90; 6307.90; 9019.20; 9020), due to the COVID-19 pandemic, effective until 15 October 2020.
- New temporary export licensing scheme: on 30 October 2020 Israel informed the WTO of a new temporary export licensing scheme, eliminating export licensing requirements for respiratory machines, and new export licensing requirement for a number of COVID-19 tests products (HS 2207; 2208; 3002.15.90; 3005; 3402.20; 3808.90; 3822.00.90; 3923.30.90; 3923.90.00; 4015.19.00; 6307.90), effective until 30 November 2020.
Measures taken in the Agricultural sector
- Israel adopted emergency regulations in order to reduce the infection and the virus spread. According to the notification ‘[a]gricultural production and related industry and services are considered essential and are therefore excluded from these regulations. Services in farms and ports of entry, such as plant protection inspectors and veterinarians, have continued’. In addition, following daily assessment of the availability of fresh agricultural produce, voluntary duty-free TRQs have been temporarily increased to import onions, cucumbers and eggs. The plant protection and inspection services (PPIS) and veterinary and animal health services (IVSAH) have also facilitated imports by accepting official and scanned copies of original phytosanitary or health certificates, as well as e-certifications that can be verified, for specific products and under certain conditions.
Israel informed the WTO of COVID-19 temporary support measures as follows:
MSME-specific support measure: On 6 April the central bank announced that it will provide the banking system with fixed-rate loans at 0.1% interest rate, for a term of 3 years, with the goal of increasing the supply of bank credit to small businesses. The plan will be in operation until the end of May, and its scope will be NIS 5 billion.
MSME-specific support measure: Loan guarantees for SMEs: On 4 May the GoI has expanded the loan fund for SMEs from NIS 8 billion to NIS 14 billion. The GoI guarantees 85% of each loan but guarantees are limited to 15% of overall losses on all loans. Loans have a maturity of up to 5 years, with lower collateral requirements (5%). The first year is interest rate free. The time required for banks to provide credit approval is reduced to 7 working days. Amount: NIS 14 billion.
Businesses are able to apply for accelerated depreciation (Double-Declining Depreciation) on equipment purchased for the business from September 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 (effective 9 November 2020).
Arrangements for the distribution of VAT payments of businesses whose turnover in March-December 2020 decreased by more than 25% compared to their turnover in March-December 2019 (effective 2 March 2021).
MSME-specific support measure: Tax and payment deferrals (NIS 9 billion). Payment of VAT, municipal taxes, social security contributions, utility payments, government fees have been deferred for SMEs until the end of April (effective 14 April 2020).
MSME-specific support measure: Grant for small and medium businesses (up to NIS 400 million turnover) (NIS 12.7 billion as of 3 March 2021), once every two months, from May 2020 to June 2021, of up to NIS 500 000 to cover fixed expenses, Amount: NIS 12.7 billion.
MSME-specific support measure: Grant to self-employed (NIS 15.0 billion as of 3 March 2021): A grant of 70% of twice the average monthly taxable income up to NIS 15 000, once every two months, from May 2020 to June 2021, for self-employed that experience a 40% decrease in activity. Amount: NIS 15.0 billion.
- [MSME-specific support measure] State Guarantee Fund for Small Businesses - NIS 8 billion for public loan guarantees to SMEs.
Participation in WTO statements
5 May 2020: Israel participated in a Statement on Covid-19 and the Multilateral Trading System.
- 14 May 2020: Israel participated in a Statement on Highlight in the Importance of MSMEs in the Time of COVID-19.
In Class Action 2069-04-20 Freedom Watch v People’s Republic of China, the Attorney General submitted an intervening brief (8 November 2020), according to which:
29. On the factual level, the action details a series of acts that the petitioners attribute to the PRC and persons acting on its behalf that have allegedly taken place in the territory of the PRC. According to the legal submission, the petitioners detail that the COVID-19 virus was spread in Israel, but other than a general statement, there is neither claim nor example of a specific event of spreading in Israel by the respondent, and all the claims detailed in the action refer only to acts allegedly carried out in the territory of the PRC. Accordingly, and since the tort exception as defined in the Foreign State Immunity Law does not apply, the respondents are immune to the action…
30. … The tort exception to foreign state immunity from civil action, under Israeli law, and international law and in comparative law, contains a clear requirement that the acts attributed to the foreign government be carried out in the territory of the forum state.
31. Since the action in question does not point to acts carried out by the PRC or anyone on its behalf in the territory of Israel, the PRC, the government authorities in China and officials representing China acting in their capacity enjoy immunity from the action in Israeli courts.
 http://freepdfhosting.com/645a6a5b51.pdf. For a comparative practice review see https://docs.wto.org/dol2fe/Pages/SS/directdoc.aspx?filename=q:/WT/TPR/OV23.pdf&Open=True. For non-governmental commentary on the implications of the measures see https://www.pearlcohen.com/the-worldwide-stakes-of-israeli-compulsory-licenses-for-anti-coronavirus-drugs/.
 Patents Authority, Notice regarding Fast Tracking examination of Patent Approval Requests relating to treatment of Coronavirus’ http://www.justice.gov.il/Units/RashamHaptentim/news/Pages/Covid19_app.aspx.
 WTO Doc G/MA/QR/N/ISR/1 (6 May 2020), WTO, Overview of Developments in the International Trading Environment Annual Report by the Director-General (Mid-October 2019 to Mid-October 2020) (30 November 2020) page 250 https://docs.wto.org/dol2fe/Pages/SS/directdoc.aspx?filename=q:/WT/TPR/OV23.pdf&Open=True.,
 WTO Doc G/MA/QR/N/ISR/1/Add.1 (16 June 2020), WTO, Overview of Developments in the International Trading Environment Annual Report by the Director-General (Mid-October 2019 to Mid-October 2020) (30 November 2020) page 250 https://docs.wto.org/dol2fe/Pages/SS/directdoc.aspx?filename=q:/WT/TPR/OV23.pdf&Open=True.
 WTO Doc G/MA/QR/N/ISR/1/Add.2 (30 October 2020), https://docs.wto.org/dol2fe/Pages/SS/directdoc.aspx?filename=q:/G/MAQRN/....
 WTO Committee on Agriculture, Ad Hoc Report on Covid-19 Measures Taken by Israel in the Agricultural Sector WTO Doc G/AG/GEN/160 (22 June 2020) https://docs.wto.org/dol2fe/Pages/SS/directdoc.aspx?filename=q:/G/AG/GEN160.pdf&Open=True and identical report circulated as WTO Doc G/SPS/GEN/1810 by the Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (8 July 2020), https://docs.wto.org/dol2fe/Pages/SS/directdoc.aspx?filename=Q:/G/SPS/GEN1810.pdf; WTO Doc G/AG/GEN/160/Add.1 (17 March 2021), https://docs.wto.org/dol2fe/Pages/SS/directdoc.aspx?filename=Q:/G/AG/GEN160A1.pdf.
 Permanent Delegation of Israel to the WTO (26 March 2021), https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/covid19_e/covid_details_by_country_e.htm?country=ISR.
 WTO Doc WT/GC/215 (14 May 2020), https://docs.wto.org/dol2fe/Pages/SS/directdoc.aspx?filename=Q:/WT/GC/215.pdf.
 Class Action 2069-04-20 Freedom Watch v People’s Republic of China (8 November 2020) paras 29-31,https://www.gov.il/BlobFolder/dynamiccollectorresultitem/90-11/he/2069-04-20.pdf. An identical view was expressed in the Attorney-General’s intervention in Class Action 53469-03-20 Herzliya Association for its Residents v People’s Republic of China (8 November 2020) paras 33-34 https://www.gov.il/BlobFolder/dynamiccollectorresultitem/53469-03-20/he/53469-03-20.pdf.