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British Bank Blacklist

February 7, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The British Bank of the Middle East, which finances a large amount of trade in Arab countries, has confirmed that it circulates a blacklist of insurance companies and advises its correspondents that they should not be used in business with the Persian Gulf state of Abu Dhabi.

The blacklist, a copy of which has been received by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, names more than 70 insurance companies. The document, on the notepaper of the Bank’s Abu Dhabi branch, is sent to companies wishing to insure goods they are supplying to Abu Dhabi.

It says. “Please be advised that the insurance companies listed below are blacklisted by the Israeli Boycott Office and in consequence no insurance policies or certificates issued by them can be accepted by us.” It also describes it as forming “on integrate part of any credit terms.”


Many non-Israeli companies are named, including firms in the United States, Britain, Hong Kong, India and Australia. Blacklisted British companies include Edinburgh Assurance Co., Glasgow Assurance Co., Liverpool Insurance Society, and the Phoenix and Pearl Assurance Companies. It also named the Prudential which has been removed from the blacklist.

The document formed part of the terms of trade for the supply of equipment by the Digital Equipment Co. of Reading to an Abu Dhabi firm. It became known in the United States when Digital parent company reported it to the Commerce Department under the rules of U.S. ant-boycott legislation.

The British Trade Department, which subscribes to the government’s official disapproval of the boycott, said it was surprised to hear about the document, but added that it was a matter for the banks and insurance companies concerned.

Meanwhile, the British government has turned down several proposals in a Select Committee report into the Arab boycott including a British initiative in the European Economic, Community. Lord Goronwy-Roberts, Minister of State at the Foreign Office, argued during a debate in the House of Lords several days ago that this would be seen as a pro-Israeli shift in Britain’s policy and risk her trade with Arab states which last year totalled 3.1 billion Pounds Sterling. He also refused to stop the Foreign Office from authenticating trade documents which explicitly discriminate against Israel. However, he promised a serious and immediate review of whether this could be changed.

The Select Committee had been set up last year to decide whether the Foreign Boycotts Bill, modeled an U.S. legislation, should become law But the committee agreed with the government that this was not practical and, instead, proposed administrative steps to be taken by the government. (By Maurice Samuelson)

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