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Webinar explores Jordan-Ireland bilateral trade opportunities in food

By Sarah Abu Zaid - May 07,2021 - Last updated at May 07,2021

The Jordan Ireland Business Association on Wednesday held a webinar titled ‘Jordan Trade Opportunities in Food’ (Photo courtesy of JIBA Facebook page)

AMMAN — The Jordan Ireland Business Association (JIBA) on Wednesday held a webinar titled “Jordan Trade Opportunities in Food” with the aim of strengthening business links between Jordan and Ireland. 

The event brought together experts in the sector from Jordan and Ireland to identify the key opportunities for imports and exports between the two countries.

Addressing the event, Irish Ambassador in Amman Vincent O’Neill, said: “This trade will enable Ireland and Jordan to create tangible opportunities that can actually make Irish and Jordanian food more available in both countries.”

“I give you my commitment as the ambassador. We will be taking this seriously to bring this forward and my colleagues from JIBA feel the same way,” the ambassador added. 

Jordan’s Ambassador to the UK and Ireland Omar Al Nahar said that the food processing and the agricultural sectors are highly strategic. In Jordan, the sector represents around 25.9 per cent of the net added value within Jordan's industrial economy, he noted.

Joseph Ruddy, board member of the Jordan Ireland Business Association, said that food trade in Jordan has been relatively modest, however there has been significant potential for growth and the trade has grown over the past four years.” 

“In 2020, there were 117,000 trade activities between Ireland and Jordan, however 7.5 per cent of that trade was in food. We have very little food products leaving Jordan to go to Ireland, which means we have a great potential going forward,” he said. 

“We have five categories of food imports from Ireland to Jordan, which are dairy, prepared consumer foods, drinks, beef and seafood. The trade decreased from 2019 to 2020 by 44 per cent but we are very optimistic, and we see great opportunities during the next upcoming years,” Ruddy added.

Halim Abu Rahmeh, CEO of Jordan Exporters Association, said that Jordan’s total exports to Ireland hardly exceeds $4.64 million including food and other products.

“Trade relations between the EU and Jordan are governed by the Association Agreement which entered into force in May 2002,” Abu Rahmeh said.

He also noted that the EU is Jordan’s biggest trade partner, accounting for 14.7 per cent of its trade in 2020. In addition, 20.6 per cent of Jordan’s imports came from the EU, but only 2.1 per cent of Jordan’s exports went to the EU, he said. 

“The Association Agreement opens the door wide for Jordanian products to enter the European market including Ireland and this agreement will allow Jordan to promote exports and import products,” Abu Rahmeh added.

Basem Naouri, Executive Manager of Jordan Exporters and  Producers Association for Fruits and Vegetables, said that Jordan has nine million acres of land suitable for agribusiness, of which around four million are in use, mostly in valleys and highlands. “There is much more room for expansion and investments within the Jordanian agricultural business,” Naouri said.

“The total territory planted in the Kingdom in 2020 was about 2.38 million acres of land, comprising 2.7 per cent of the total area of the Kingdom,” he said.

Anwar Haddad, Chairman of the Jordan Dates Association (JODA), said that the date palm varieties planted in Jordan make the Kingdom “very special” in the exports of dates.

“Our ranking in the global market in terms of the quantity of dates exportation is 12th, while in terms of value we are the eighth country in the world,” Haddad added. 

Claudia Saumell, Middle East Manager of the Irish Food Board - Bord Bia, said that dairy exports to Jordan from Ireland stands at 95 per cent, however, meat products remain in the small category. “We are working on it and will hopefully identify more opportunities,” Saumell said.

Also speaking during the virtual event, Thomas Brosnan, Executive Chef, Ayla Oasis, said: “It is exciting for me as an Irish chef in Jordan to see Irish products available in the supermarkets and to those in the hospitality industry. I was also very excited to hear that Jordan will export to Ireland, especially that the best olive oil will have to be in Jordan.”

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