Guidance published today makes clear that procurement boycotts by public authorities are inappropriate, outside where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the government.
Town hall boycotts undermine good community relations, poisoning and polarising debate, weakening integration and fuelling anti-Semitism.
Locally imposed boycotts can roll back integration as well as hinder Britain’s export trade and harm international relationship.
All contracting authorities will be impacted by this new guidance including central government, executive agencies, non-departmental public bodies, the wider public sector, local authorities and NHS bodies. Any public body found to be in breach of the regulations could be subject to severe penalties.
The World Trade Organisation Government Procurement Agreement – an international market access agreement – requires all those countries that have signed up to the Agreement to treat suppliers equally. This includes the EU and Israel. Any discrimination against Israeli suppliers involving procurements would therefore be in breach of the Agreement.
The guidance published today complements existing government guidance about trading or investing overseas (including with Israel), where we advise UK businesses to consider any potential legal and economic risks of doing so. It is also in line with the government’s existing policy of support for clear and transparent labelling of settlement products to ensure that individual consumers are able to make informed choices before they buy.
Cabinet Office Minister, Matthew Hancock said:
We need to challenge and prevent these divisive town hall boycotts. The new guidance on procurement combined with changes we are making to how pension pots can be invested will help prevent damaging and counter-productive local foreign policies undermining our national security.
We support UK local authorities, businesses and individual consumers alike in making informed choices about how they procure services and products from overseas.