The European Union facilitated a joint meeting with the Palestinian and Israeli authorities as well as representatives of the Palestinian business community at the King Hussein / Allenby Bridge crossing. During the visit arrangements to launch a pilot initiative to start shipments of containers through the border crossing were discussed and agreed. Palestinian Ministries of National Economy, Civil Affairs, General Administration of Borders and Crossings, Investment Promotion and Industrial Estates Agency as well as the Israeli Airports Authority, Tax Authority and Civil Administration attended the meeting.
The initiative comes as a joint measure to help expand Palestinian trade, contribute to job and welfare creation in the Palestinian economy and improve the overall economic conditions for the Palestinians.
The use of containers for shipment of goods through the crossing will help save time, transaction costs and reduce damages for Palestinian traders. The pilot will improve the competitiveness of Palestinian businesses and also contribute to expansion of trade volumes at the border crossing due to streamlined processes and shorter handling times.
Currently containers’ shipping is not possible at the crossing and all goods undergo a back-to-back transfer on pallets. The new pilot initiative will for first time allow interested Palestinian companies to organise their shipments in containers. The pilot will commence on the 1st of January 2022 and will be assessed after an initial period of three months. Around 15 Palestinian companies showed interest to take part in the initiative for containerised trade and attended the meeting. The pilot will be open to any interested business and will apply across different sectors of the economy.
The European Union Representative, Sven Kühn von Burgsdorff said: "I am delighted to pronounce that shipment of goods in containers will start at the border with Jordan. Allowing containers’ shipment will help Palestinian business and make it easier for traders and consumers to receive the goods faster and in better conditions. I very much hope that such measures can be expanded as they will not only facilitate cross-border trade but also contribute to building trust between the parties. Trust and mutually beneficial outcomes are essential for our joint efforts towards prosperity and peace."
The Palestinian Minister of National Economy, Khaled Osaily, appreciated the role of the European Union and their commitment to enhance Palestinian trade, and he welcomed the pilot as a concrete step toward implementing further steps to enhance Palestinian trade. He added: "Palestinian government is committed to enhancing the business enabling environment for the Palestinian private sector, and stresses the importance of this pilot in trade facilitation and economic development. This pilot will contribute to enhancing the competitiveness of Palestinian products. Shipment with containers will have a significant positive impact on Palestinian private sector by reducing the transaction cost compared to the currently used mechanism."
The initiative is conceived on the background of the European Union’s ‘Renewed partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood: A new Agenda for the Mediterranean’, the objective of which is to address common challenges, take advantage of shared opportunities and unlock the region's economic potential for the benefit of its people. The accompanying ‘Economic and Investment Plan’ foresees a flagship investment into upgrading of trade and connectivity infrastructure across the region, including at the King Hussein / Allenby Bridge crossing.
The pilot is put-in place in the context of the ‘Package of measures to facilitate trade of Palestinian products’ adopted at the 9th Union for the Mediterranean Trade Ministerial Conference, the aim of which is to facilitate Palestinian trade in a comprehensive way through removal of restrictions on access to markets and enhanced technical cooperation. To this end, the European Union promotes the implementation of the package of measures inter alia through continuing holding meetings on this issue with both the Israeli and Palestinian sides.
The pilot initiative also forms a follow-up action to the discussions at the Ministerial Meeting of the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee in Oslo on the 17th of November 2021. This forum was established to promote cooperation between the parties and the donor community in support of the two-state solution, development of the Palestinian economy, and institution-building for a future Palestinian state.