Jordan-EU meeting on 'EU rules of origin' trade deal postponed indefinitely

Jordan-EU meeting on 'EU rules of origin' trade deal postponed indefinitely
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Published January 24th, 2017 - 11:05 GMT via SyndiGate.info

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The meeting was reportedly postponed on news that participation of the EU companies was weak. (File photo)
The meeting was reportedly postponed on news that participation of the EU companies was weak. (File photo)
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A meeting slated for Wednesday to explain the EU rules of origin deal and how to maximise benefits from it was postponed upon a request from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the EU delegation in Jordan said on Monday.

The meeting was scheduled to host Jordanian and European private and public sector representatives. 

“Despite all organisational efforts that had produced more than 170 registered participants one week ahead of the conference, we received a request from the Ministry of Trade and Industry to postpone the... EU-Jordan Trade and Business conference to a future, unknown date,” the EU delegation said in a statement to The Jordan Times.

“We regret this decision, not only for the efforts that we have consistently put in the organisation for more than two months now, but especially as we believe that the event was also very much needed to give worldwide visibility to and improve understanding of the new rules of origin relaxation scheme approved by the European Commission, hence facilitating an increase in investment flows to Jordan,” the delegation said.

The ministry and the Jordan Chamber of Industry were not available for comment on Monday despite several attempts by The Jordan Times.

Fathallah Emrani — the president of the General Trade Union of Workers in Textile, Garment and Clothing Industries — said the meeting was postponed, as several industrial factories and companies in Jordan received information that the participation of the EU companies was weak.

“We received information that the number of European companies that are actually willing to participate is low and lower than we expected, which was frustrating,” Emrani told The Jordan Times over the phone on Monday.

“Such a meeting is key to effectively implementing the relaxed EU rules of origin, but there needs to be momentum and quality participation to come up with tangible results,” he said.

“I believe that Europe is busy handling many internal issues at this stage, such as elections and the upcoming relationship with the US with Donald Trump’s presidency; therefore, these issues might overshadow the deal,” Emrani noted. 

“Nevertheless, more efforts are needed to push the deal forward and revive the industry,” he stressed.

Under the decision, the EU has allowed Made in Jordan products to utilise more than 70 per cent of production inputs from non-local materials.

A total of 18 industrial and developmental zones are included in this move, while the relaxed rules will also be applied to other industries across the Kingdom once 200,000 jobs for Syrian refugees are created and when those Syrians are issued work permits.

In its statement on Monday, the EU delegation said: “Reportedly, the Jordan Chamber of Industry alerted the ministry that most of the Jordanian companies that had initially decided to take part in the conference renounced due to a weak participation of companies on the EU side and suggested [that] the ministry... postpone the conference.

“We can ensure that we have spared no effort to make this event a success and to convince our counterparts that the event would have been useful, in particular for Jordanian public and private stakeholders.”

Acknowledging that it is not in the commission’s mandate to force the participation of EU private sector in any event, the delegation said the response so far (25 confirmed companies, including a few large ones, consultants and a number of sector organisations) was “adequate”. 

The statement said such a number was “even promising for a first contact, that would have allowed anyway the two parties to come together and to make bridges for future ventures”.

The Brussels conference would have allowed the ministry and the Jordan Investment Commission to take the stage and explain why the Kingdom is an interesting destination for a foreign stakeholder, the statement added.

“We regret to learn that the Ministry of Trade believe that this level of participation from the European side does not live up to the aspirations of the Jordanian delegation,” the delegation said.

“We remain committed to make the EU rules of origin relaxation a real success and we will ensure that adequate supportive measures are set into place. As far as a new conference is concerned, we are not, at present able to confirm when and where it will take place, but we believe that an enhanced effort will also be needed from Jordanian authorities.”

By Mohammad Ghazal

 

 

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