An Israeli ministerial committee authorized the construction of a multimillion-dollar joint industrial zone with Jordan, considered to be the first large-scale project since the signing of the peace treaty between the two countries in 1994.
The industrial park, initiated by Regional Cooperation Minister Silvan Shalom, will be located in the northern Jordan Valley and comprise an Israeli and a Jordanian industrial zone connected by a bridge over the Jordan River. An Israeli ministerial committee Monday authorized initial funding for the project at NIS 120 million ($34 million) with an additional projected investment of 60 million ($17 million) over the coming years.
According to the plan, presented by Shalom’s office, only authorized personnel and visitors will be allowed to enter the park, in which Israeli law will apply to the Israeli side and Jordanian law to the Jordanian side. A new governmental body called the Jordan Gateway Authority will be created to oversee activity on the Israeli side of the park.
“The joint Jordan Gateway industry and employment park is a real breakthrough,” Shalom said in a press statement. “This is the first significant project with the Kingdom of Jordan since the signing of the peace agreement [in 1994]. It will strengthen relations between the two states and add to growth in the region through new factories, joint projects and the creation of new jobs.”
To economically fortify the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan, since 1998 the United States has designated 13 Qualified Industrial Zones across Jordan that receive tariff exemptions on imports to the US, on condition that the manufactured products contain at least 8 percent Israeli inputs. Jordan Gateway is one of three new planned QIZs; the other two will be located in the southern city of Aqaba and near the capital, Amman.
According to the Israeli Ministry of Economics and Planning, QIZs have boosted Jordanian exports to the US from $15 million in 1997 to over $1 billion in 2004 and are considered “the country’s strongest engine of job growth,” creating an estimated 40,000 jobs. A full free trade agreement was signed between Jordan and the US in 2001.