Are Yemenis Ready for the Boycott? [Archives:2001/34/Business & Economy]

August 20 2001

Mahyoub Al-Kamali
The Yemeni political and partisan circles reiterated the need for reaching a consensus on the boycott of the western goods manufactured by companies maintaining trade relations with Israel. The aim of such move is to exercise pressure on the industrial countries headed by the US to reconsider its relations with the Zionist entity which is carrying out a war of extermination against the defenseless Palestinian people. Yet, despite the Yemen’s sympathetic stance with the Palestinian cause it is first of all concerned with obtaining aids from the industrial countries.
The popular committee for boycotting American products in addition to the products of the other companies dealing with Israel has issued a list of the companies to be boycotted. The different political parties have different views on the boycott and its scope.
The opposition parties believe that the boycott should include all the western companies maintaining relations with Israel. Likewise they call on boycotting the products manufactured by subsidiaries owned by Yemeni investors inside Yemen. On the other hand, the other group represented by the ruling party, the GPC, thinks that the boycott should be in accordance with the policies adopted by the Arab Office for Boycotting Israel which recently resumed its meetings. Furthermore, the second group believes that the boycott of the locally produced commodities will have a destructive impact on the national economy, if the subsidiaries of the foreign companies, having relations with Israel, are closed down.
Yet one can observe that the Japanese exports to Yemen account for the major part of the Yemeni market and in this regard most of the Japanese firms are cautious in dealing with Israel due to their broad interests in the Arab world. Similarly most of the other products come from countries like China, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Indonesia, Russia, India and Pakistan.
Exports from the US and Europe to Yemen account for just a small share of the Yemeni market although the Yemeni market is replete with American products like agricultural equipment and cars. Nevertheless, Yemeni consumers up to this very moment are not decided on boycotting the imported goods despite their strong sympathy with the Palestinian cause.
It seems that the Yemeni consumers are unconcerned with the origin of the products as much as they are cheap ones and this is due to the low income level of the Yemeni citizens.
Accordingly, it seems that the call for the boycott of the American goods ,on the one hand, and the products manufactured by western companies maintaining trade relations with Israel is merely a political attitude for showing solidarity with the Palestinian people. So , testing to what extent the boycott is applicable within a poor nation like Yemen, will certainly be doomed unsuccessful due to the aforementioned reasons.
Furthermore, the Yemeni consumers became the victim of smuggled products of very low quality and sometimes of Israeli origin. Products of such will, certainly, endanger the health of the consumers and it is the responsibility of the competent authorities to curb this destructive phenomena. Ultimately, it sounds that the Yemeni consumers will not be able to tolerate the high prices of some products with the view of supporting the Palestinians since they are primarily concerned with buying cheap products no matter what their origins are.