Cross-border projects are materializing, but not between Arab countries – as Arabs would have hoped – but between Israel and Jordan.  A joint industrial park is to be established along the Israeli-Jordanian border, giving Israeli companies the ability to tap into Arab markets, as their products will bear the misleading label “Made in Jordan.”
The Israeli press reports that the industrial zone – the brainchild of Israeli Minister of Regional Cooperation Silvan Shalom – will be submitted to the Israeli government for approval next week. The industrial park will consist of a section near Kibbutz Tirat Zvi on the Israeli side, which will be linked via bridge over the Jordan River to the Jordanian section.
On the Jordanian side, industrial facilities will be built by Israeli and Jordanian firms, and are expected to employ up to 2,000 Jordanian workers, while administration, logistics, and marketing facilities will operate on the Israeli side.
The estimated cost of the project, dubbed Sha’ar Hayarden, meaning Jordan Gate, will be around 180 million shekels (about $50 million).
According to Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Jordan will benefit from the increased job opportunities while Israel will stand to benefit from huge savings in labor costs by paying workers relatively low wages (no more than $500 per month on the Jordanian side).
In addition, the factories will be “close to home,” helping Israeli companies save on logistical costs and have more effective control over the production process. But more importantly, the products manufactured in this zone will be stamped with the label “Made in Jordan,” allowing Israeli companies to market their products in Arab countries.
Yedioth Ahronoth also noted that the project, which is considered a historic move between Israel and Jordan, will be overseen by a government agency attached to the Ministry of Regional Cooperation, which will collaborate with the ministries of economy, foreign affairs, defense and transportation.
The newspaper quoted Silvan Shalom as saying, “Sha’ar Hayarden represents a real breakthrough. The project will help strengthen relations between Israel and Jordan , and boost economic growth in the region through the establishment of new factories and joint ventures and job creation. We will continue to take the initiative and press forward with such projects.”