Omar Obeidat
The Jordan Times
April 23, 2008 - 6:11pm

Stringent Israeli restrictions have hindered Jordan-Palestine efforts to increase trade volume, officials from the two sides said on Tuesday.

"Strict Israeli measures are impeding the flow of goods between the two countries because Israel is trying to control the Palestinian economy," Jawad Naji, an adviser to Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, said.

Naji told The Jordan Times that the size of trade between Jordan and Palestine is still less than expected, noting that trade volume stood at around JD50 million in 2007, a figure he described as “modest”.

The Kingdom’s exports to Palestine were JD27.1 million and imports JD21.9 million, compared to a gross trade volume of JD3.5 billion between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel, which controls all conduits of cargo bound to the Palestinian lands.

Naji was among a Palestinian delegation headed by National Economy Minister Mohammad Kamal Hassouneh, who on Tuesday met with Minister of Industry and Trade Amer Hadidi to discuss measures to increase trade between the Kingdom and the PA.

The delegation also met with the presidents and members of Jordan’s chambers of industry and trade.

At the meeting, the two sides agreed to identify ways to ensure goods are transported directly to either destination “without any interference from Israel”.

Hurdles related to transportation, customs and taxes are the main complaints as far as parties involved are concerned.

Jordanian foodstuff traders complained at the meeting of long waiting periods at the borders imposed by the Israeli authorities, saying the delay results in damage to their goods.

The Jordanian and Palestinian sides signed several agreements mainly dealing with free trade, investment, agriculture and transportation.

Also on Tuesday, the Palestinian minister invited private sector companies and investors in Jordan to take part in an economic conference, which will take place in Bethlehem May 21-23.


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