The reopening of key Jordanian-Syrian border crossings this week is a major step that is likely to boost many economic sectors in Jordan, which is witnessing low growth amidst regional turmoil and local challenges.
On Monday, the Jaber-Nasib crossing, which was closed in 2015, was officially reopened after Syria and Jordan took all necessary technical measures to start operations at the crossing.
Businesses in Jordan are upbeat and expect a gradual increase in trade exchange with Syria and Lebanon and, through these countries, to reach to new markets in Europe and elsewhere.
“Syria is a very important market for Jordanian industries, commodities, fruits and vegetables…It is also a key pathway to many east European countries and Russia and the EU states,” Hosam Ayesh, an economist, told 7Dnews.
“Jordan’s economy will certainly benefit from the reopening…Trade exchange with Syria and Lebanon will improve at this stage…There will be a more evident impact once the Syrian-Turkish borders are reopened, which means our trucks and commodities can reach major markets in Europe,” Ayesh said.
Trade between Jordan and Syria exceeded $900 million annually before 2011 and more than 5,000 trucks used to operate the Jordanian-Syrian route and via Syria to other markets.
“I am very optimistic about the reopening…Many traders suffered after the closure of the crossing. If the situation improves, we are optimistic about resuming trade with Syrian counterparts,” Riad Alkhalili, a trader in Zarqa governorate, told 7Dnews.
“Syria enjoyed high quality textile industries and products and we hope the situation will return to normal and business will return to how it was before 2011,” the trader said.
Zuhair Jweihan, vice president of the Jordan Exporters and Producers Society for Fruits and Vegetables, said the reopening of the crossing is a very positive step.
Before 2011, Jordan's fruit and vegetable exports exceeded 200,000 metric tonnes per year. Jordan also used to export more than 60,000 metric tonnes of fruit and vegetable to Russia, eastern Europe and Turkey via Syria before 2011.
“This is good news for our farmers. Many of them went out of business and others incurred millions of dinars in losses. It will take a while to witness an improvement, but this is good news,” he told 7Dnews.
Mohammad Dawoud, president of the Jordan Truck Owners Association, said losses in the land transport sector exceeded $1 billion after the closure of borders with Syria and Iraq.
Out of the 17,000-truck fleet in Jordan, around 5,000 used to operate across and via the Syrian border.
“We want to resume work as soon as possible…it will be cheaper now to transport our commodities to Syria, via Syria and to key sea ports at the Mediterranean…This will help reduce costs and increase the competitiveness of our products and imports,” Dawoud told 7Dnews.
Deifallah Abu Aqouleh, president of the Association of Owners of Freight Clearance and Transport Companies, told 7Dnews on Wednesday October 17th that the numbers of clearance offices at the border crossing now exceeded 32.
“I expect more to open soon. They are now working on getting licences and I believe cargo movement will start next week,” he said.
“It is too early to judge the benefit of the reopening of the border crossing, but it is certainly a very good and a long-awaited step,” Aqouleh added.