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Foreign, industry ministers hold talks with Turkish peers

UNRWA, Jerusalem, Syria crisis and suspended FTA top agenda

By JT - Sep 19,2018 - Last updated at Sep 19,2018

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi (second left) and Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply Tareq Hammouri (left) hold a joint press conference with Turkish Foreign Minister Mouloud Gawishoglu (seond right) and Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan in Ankara on Tuesday (Petra photo)

AMMAN — Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ayman Safadi and Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply Tareq Hammouri held a joint meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Mouloud Gawishoglu and Turkish Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan on Tuesday.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed means of developing economic relations, as well as the Jordanian-Turkish Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which the Jordanian side had terminated, citing its infeasibility. 

At the meeting, Safadi and Gawishoglu stressed their keenness to increase cooperation and coordination and reviewed developments in the region. The Turkish top diplomat briefed Safadi on the understandings reached at Monday’s Sochi summit over the fate of Syria’s Idlib region between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. 

The two sides also discussed the Palestinian issue and the importance of coordination with concerned countries on the subject of financing the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

During the meeting of the industry, trade and supply ministers, both sides agreed on the formation of Jordanian-Turkish technical teams to decide on outstanding issues, including the FTA, in order to reach a new agreement.

At a joint press conference held by the four ministers, Safadi emphasised the need to work towards a political solution that preserves the unity of Syria, brings an end to the destruction and serves the interests of the Syrian people, in line with UNSC Resolution 2254 and the outcomes of Geneva process. 

Safadi also stressed that the Palestinian cause is the Kingdom’s central issue and should be resolved on the basis of a two-state solution that guarantees the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital with the pre-June 4, 1967 lines.

Safadi praised the “strong, systematic and constructive cooperation” between the Kingdom and Turkey on the issue of Jerusalem and stressed the role of His Majesty King Abdullah, as the guardian of Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem.

For his part, Minister of Trade Tareq Hammouri pointed out that the FTA signed between the two countries in 2009 did not achieve the envisioned goals. 

He noted that the visit to Turkey came at the invitation of the hosts, stressing that the formed technical teams will hold more meetings to reach specific results according to a fixed timeframe. 

The minister also invited his Turkish counterpart to visit Jordan.

The former Cabinet decided to suspend the FTA with Turkey in March, citing its adverse impact on the local industrial sector and the Turkish side’s failure to meet its commitments under the partnership agreement.

The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Supply announced several conditions necessary for the deal to be resumed, including Turkey’s consent to measures Jordan would devise that protect local industries, and an agreement to increase technical assistance to Jordan, as stipulated by the FTA. According to official figures, the trade balance between the two countries has been heavily in favour of Turkey.

 In 2017, Jordan’s exports to Turkey reached JD65.8 million, while imports from the partner country amounted in value to JD484 million, according to the Department of Statistics.

The decision to suspend the 7-year bilateral deal was welcomed by industrialists but slammed by traders.

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