Jerusalem, 5 December 1996

INDUSTRY AND TRADE MINISTER SHARANSKY SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH JORDANIAN COUNTERPART

(Communicated by Industry and Trade Ministry Spokeswoman)

Industry and Trade Minister Natan Sharansky met yesterday (Wednesday), 04.12.96, at the Dead Sea Radisson-Moriah Hotel, with his Jordanian counterpart, Ali Abu Ragheb, in order to improve trade relations between Israel and Jordan. To this end, the two ministers signed a Memorandum of Understanding designed to improve the Israeli-Jordanian Trade Agreement, which was signed and came into force on 24 April 1996.

The MOU includes improvements in the method for calculating the duty reductions in the agreement, an additional list of new products (which were not included in the original agreement) and reductions in duties on various products. The MOU will lead to substantial improvements in commerce between Israel and Jordan.

Israel’s exports to Jordan have reached $2.5 million monthly and imports from Jordan are approximately $1.5 million monthly.

A long list of products will receive full duty reductions within the framework of the improved agreement. These include pumps, automobile filters, pharmaceutical goods, roofing tiles, bakery equipment, glass lenses, toys, etc. Another 50 products will have their duties reduced by approximately 50%. These include: sweets, plastic pipes, and glass lenses. Close to 40 products will have duties reduced by 30%. These include clothing and textiles, refrigerators, electric wire, etc.

During deliberations prior to the signing, the two ministers discussed matters related to advancing trade relations and cooperation between the two countries. They welcomed the security annex to the transportation agreement, which will enable the main problem regarding trade the transfer procedures at the bridges between the two countries to be resolved.

In a joint statement, it was agreed that following discussions by Israeli and Jordanian experts on the issue of transferring goods to the Palestinian Authority, discussions will take place on implementing the new procedures, with the participation of Palestinian representatives.

The ministers also discussed joint cooperation between industries on both sides, and reviewed investments and the ways of encouraging more joint initiatives. They also spoke about the "Tride" fund the trilateral fund between Israel, Jordan, and the United States which has already approved two Israeli, American, and Jordanian pilot projects.

FOLLOWING IS THE ISRAELI-JORDANIAN JOINT STATEMENT WHICH WAS ISSUED AFTER THE MEETING BETWEEN INDUSTRY AND TRADE MINISTER NATAN SHARANSKY AND HIS JORDANIAN COUNTERPART, ALI ABU AGHEB:

1. Wishing to further the development of trade and economic relations between the two countries, the Ministers of Industry and Trade of both countries met to explore ways and means to promote trade and cooperation between the business communities of their countries.

2. The Ministers of Industry and Trade of Jordan and Israel have reached an understanding on the expansion of trade concessions on goods exported from Jordan. Both ministers expressed confidence that this understanding, coupled with new transportation arrangements, will extend the benefits of peace between the two countries and pave the way for [the] mutual liberalization of bilateral trade.

3. The Ministers of Industry and Trade of Israel and Jordan welcome the new transportation arrangements that will enable the delivery of Jordanian goods to Israel and from Israel to Jordan through the "door to door" transport system.

4. Israel and Jordan attach great importance to facilitating the passage of goods between Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. An early meeting of experts of Jordan and Israel will be convened to discuss transport arrangements under the provisions of the Jordan-Israel Transportation Agreement applicable to trade between Jordan and the PA, to supplement those already reached on cement and fuel.

Upon the conclusion of these discussions, a forum composed of Israel, Jordan, and PA experts will discuss the implementation of appropriate trade arrangements taking into consideration the framework of the existing agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

5. The Ministers of Industry and Trade of Israel and Jordan appreciate that a properly prepared trilateral meeting among Israel, Jordan, and the PA representatives would contribute to the alleviation of the difficulties in trade between Jordan and the PA and would be a sensible way to discuss pending trade issues among the three parties.

6. Israel and Jordan have agreed to join efforts vis-a-vis their international trading partners in order to obtain recognition of their cumulative origin. This would facilitate trade and encourage the establishment of joint Israeli and Jordanian projects.

7. The Ministers of Jordan and Israel have agreed to cooperate in the promotion of joint ventures between Jordanians and Israeli partners.

8. Both ministers expressed their satisfaction with the first round of grants awarded under the new program of TRIDE established by the governments of Jordan, Israel, and the U.S. for the encouragement of cooperation among private companies of the three countries.