Supporting the steadfastness of the Palestinians on their soil is supposed to be a firm and repeatedly confirmed Jordanian policy. Such policy is not subject to reservations or reconsideration at any time. However, the details of the current trade between Jordan and Palestine, as revealed by the Department of Statistics, do not support this claim.
Trade with Palestine is running at a very low level. The trend deserves to be corrected, sooner rather than later, if we really want Palestinians to stay in Palestine.
During the first eight months of this year, Jordanians’ exports of commodities to Palestine reached JD35.5 million, of which JD7.4 million represent reexports of imported foreign items; imports from Palestine were confined to only JD17.3 million. Thus Jordan achieved a trade surplus with Palestine of JD18.2 million in eight months.
Jordanian exports to Palestine during the first eight months of this year rose by 17.5 per cent in comparison to the same period of last year, while imports from Palestine dropped by 2 per cent during the same period.
This is not proper from a political or national point of view. One may wonder why our imports from Palestine are so small at a time when we import much more from Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, especially agricultural produce.
Naturally, every country is interested in increasing its exports in order to reduce its trade deficit or, if possible, to achieve a surplus. Looking at the statistics, one can find that Jordan imports more than double its exports, sustaining a trade deficit of not less than JD4 billion a year. So why should we care about making a surplus, small as it may be, with Palestine, which we want to help?
The West Bank and Gaza have excellent agricultural produce, small- and medium-sized factories. They produce lots of consumer products that are needed in Jordan, which can shift the source of imports from elsewhere to Palestine.
Giving priority to the Palestinian farmer or industrialist would be a valuable help to the Palestinian people without additional cost to Jordan.
The weakness of the Palestinian economy under occupation and the very high rate of unemployment stem from a well-established Israeli policy aiming at making life in Palestine unbearable. Israel wants to push the Palestinians out of Palestine.
Jordan, as a poor country, does not have the means to financially support the Palestinian treasury, but it can increase imports of Palestinian products and facilitate their way to other Arab markets, especially the Gulf states.
Of course, one is aware of the restrictions imposed by the Israelis at the borders, under the pretext that they are worried about their security, but such restrictions apply to the transport of products to, not from, Palestine.
The Jordanian government needs to stimulate more imports from Palestine, to make them reach a volume of at least JD100 million a year. Such action would be of great value in supporting the Palestinians, a Jordanian strategic objective, without incurring any extra cost.