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|12 July, 2018

‘Jordan needs consent of all EU member states to modify deal’

Jordan has mainly sought to increase the overall duration of the agreement and a modification of a term related to Syrian labour quotas: minister

Image used for illustrative purpose. Pro-remain supporters wave EU flags outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, Britain, June 20, 2018.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Pro-remain supporters wave EU flags outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, Britain, June 20, 2018.

REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

AMMAN — Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply Tareq Hammouri said that his talks with officials at the European Commission in Brussels have focused on Jordan's requests for more facilities under a 2016 deal to simplify EU rules of origin.

Hammouri said in a press statement carried by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, on Wednesday that the Kingdom has mainly sought to increase the overall duration of the agreement and a modification of a term related to Syrian labour quotas in factories that benefit from the simplified rules.

EU's representatives have indicated that any amendment to the resolution requires the consent of the 28 EU member states; accordingly, the European Commission will conduct and facilitate discussions with EU member states on the Jordanian request and inform Jordan of the outcome of these discussions, Petra said.

In February, Jordan submitted a request to the EU requesting the inclusion of more facilities under the relaxed rules of origin deal, which was signed with the EU, which has an interest in securing Syrian refugee jobs in host countries to ease pressure on the continent after it has seen a massive wave of immigration in past years.

A source has told The Jordan Times this week that the Kingdom also asked the EU to increase the number of zones benefitting under the agreement. He said the requests had been turned down.

Under the deal, manufacturers in the Kingdom can import up to 70 per cent of the raw materials used in production and still label the finished products as ”Made in Jordan”, qualifying them for trade concessions.

The agreement, which is valid until 2026, designated a total of 18 industrial and developmental zones as beneficiaries, while the relaxed rules will also be applied to other industries across the Kingdom as soon as 200,000 jobs are created for Syrian refugees, after they are issued work permits.

For Jordanian industries to be able to benefit from the simplified rules of origin by the EU, each factory needs to have Syrian employees constituting no less than 15 per cent of its manpower. The rate will be increased to 25 per cent in the third year of the agreement.

Tens of thousands of work permits have been issued for Syrians since the agreement was signed. The unemployment rate among Jordanians has now jumped to 18 per cent.

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