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Exporters hope Jordan-Iraq trade will pick up as agreements go into effect

'New agreements allow transit shipping both ways as of April'

By Maram Kayed - Apr 08,2019 - Last updated at Apr 08,2019

AMMAN — Traffic at the Karameh border between Jordan and Iraq is “slowly picking up” as numerous agreements signed in the past months are going into effect, according to President of the Jordan Truck Owners Association (JTOA) Mohammad Dawood.

Dawood noted that “more concessions” have been made since the two sides eased entry regulations for trucks in November 2018.

Trucks before were only permitted to transport goods back-to-back due to security reasons, adding that an additional condition required at least 200 trucks to queue up at the border before being allowed entry to Iraq, he said.

The new regulations allow any number of trucks to cross into Iraq directly, he added.

A number of trade agreements have also been signed, such as the exemption of 393 Jordanian commodities exported to Iraq from customs, back in February.

On the Jordanian side, the government decided to exempt Iraqi goods exported through the Aqaba Port from 75 per cent of the handling fees collected by the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority, Dawood highlighted.

Some agreements went into effect in March, when Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Environment Ibrahim Shahahdeh announced a few weeks before that an agreement had been reached with his Iraqi counterparts to “speed things up”.

The most recent agreement, signed in April, was to allow transit land passage for Iraqi and Jordanian trucks, to deliver cargo not only inside the country but to their final destination, according to a Ministry of Industry, Trade and Supply statement sent to The Jordan Times.

Empty trucks are also allowed entry, according to Dawood, who explained that this was not permitted in the past.

“Soon we will be importing oil, fruits, and vegetables just like the old days. We are all very optimistic,” Dawood said.

He added that “the traffic right now is slow, which is expected, given that all of this has just gone into effect recently, but things will pick up soon”.

Vice Chairman of Petra Engineering Industries Co. and Jordanian Exports Association President Omar Abu Wishah agreed with Dawood, but noted that it is still too early to judge whether or not trade with Iraq is actually picking up.

“This is the way it should be,” he said in reference to the recent transit shipping and other agreements signed in the months past.

“Transportation is the backbone of trade, and exchange is the key word in this context. Until we see Iraqi trucks on our roads, it is mere speculation to say that trade with Iraq is picking up. Iraqi trucks still operate on a back-to-back basis,” he highlighted.

The 600-kilometre highway connecting the border crossing to Baghdad is not entirely safe yet, but measures are underway, Abu Wishah explained.

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