Saturday, August 18, 2018

New scanning facility to double trade between Jordan and Palestine, but Israel remains prime beneficiary


By Ruth Regan - February 23, 2018
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Jordan] [Israeli government] [Palestinian Authority] [trade and diplomatic relations]

A new scanning facility opened at the Allenby Crossing between the West Bank and Jordan at the end of January.

Members of the Israeli, Palestinian Authority (PA) and Jordanian governments were in attendance, along with representatives from European embassies, the US Embassy and the UN.
 
This was the first meeting of senior Israeli and Palestinian Authority ministers since Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December.
 
Tens of millions of shekels were invested in the facility, with significant contributions from the Dutch government.
 
It is expected to significantly increase commercial activity, doubling the daily number of containers that can be inspected from 100 to 200 and increasing the volume of trucks that pass from seven to 20.
 
The new efficiencies will allow for continuous trade as the scanners can function through all weather conditions. The more sophisticated facility will also open up the trade of refrigerated foods.
 
The centre is expected to reduce cost and time for exporters and importers as it can scan products whether or not they are in containers.
 
It is just two years ago the first shipment of vegetables was traded directly from Jordan to the West Bank without having to be conducted through Israeli merchants.
 
Happening in close succession with recent calls from PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah for a Palestinian currency (although experts warn this risks bringing collapse to the local economy), this may appear as a move towards the Palestinian Authority’s long-term efforts to reduce its dependency on the Israeli economy.
 
But people should stop short of proclaiming this as a move towards an independent Palestinian economy.
 
As part of their economic occupation, Israel has controlled the Palestinian economy and collected taxes on any imports since the 1994 Paris Protocol on Economic Relations in the Oslo Accord amendments, despite it being designed as a five-year temporary measure.
 
Israel also holds all ultimate control over Palestine’s border crossings.
 
And it was the Israel Tax Authority which led the work in the development and building of the centre.
 
Its director, Moshe Asher, heralded the facility opening as 'to benefit both the PA and the State of Israel.’
 
In a report on the opening, they stated;
 
'The facility will give practical expression to commercial ties between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) and also serve commerce between the PA and Jordan’.
 
From the Israeli perspective, it is clear the motivation behind the new installation is their own economic self-interest, with any benefits to the Palestinian economy a mere by-product.
 
Despite some trade with Jordan, the Palestinian market remains captive to Israeli exports, with Israeli products accounting for more than 70% of Palestinian imports in 2015.
 

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