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Online shopping decision starts to bite as popular platform shuts down

By Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas - Aug 21,2019 - Last updated at Aug 21,2019

In this photo from 2015, representatives from CashBasha company are seen receiving the first place at the Middle East & North African startup pitch challenge in Cairo (Photo courtesy of CashBasha Facebook page)

AMMAN — A well-known company that facilitates online shopping for Jordanians through Amazon has shut down following a Cabinet decision to impose customs fees on products bought online for personal use, which will become effective as of Thursday.

“In light of the changes on customs procedures announced recently and the new customs tariffs that the Jordanian government and the Jordan Customs Department will impose on e-commerce products and packages, CashBasha has suspended accepting new orders from Jordan at the moment,” the company said on its official Facebook page. 

In their post, CashBasha apologised to its customers for the inconvenience. 

“These government amendments will prevent CashBasha and other companies from offering exceptional services in the Kingdom,” the post said, asking followers to share the post in order to spread awareness on the right to have “fair trade conditions” for all. 

People who shop online for personal products, to buy items that are either unavailable in the Kingdom or are cheaper to buy online voiced their dismay over the Cabinet decision, which the government says is intended to protect local businesses. 

Many people expressed anger, accusing the government of not caring about revitalising the local market for the sake of imposing taxes. 

A customer on Facebook commented: “They want us to stay under the mercy of local traders and buy their products by force at the prices they set, preventing you from buying things you like online.”

Another customer wrote: “These government decisions have been and still are destroying the economy, and this confusion is now affecting start-ups that have become one of the pillars of the national economy in any country.”

Asaad Qawasmi, a representative of the clothes, garment and jewellery sector at the Jordan Chamber of Commerce, told The Jordan Times earlier this week that some people abuse previous regulations and use various passports to order goods without having to pay extra customs or taxes, and then sell these goods at low prices; an illegal form of e-commerce.

Clothing associations and chambers of commerce demanded fair competition for traditional traders who pay their taxes, fees and operational costs, and preferred either lowering taxes and fees on traditional traders or increasing e-commerce customs fees and taxes.

The Jordan Times attempted to contact the Jordan Customs Department Director General Abdelmajid Rahamneh for comment, but he was not available.

The department said earlier this week that it took the new steps to organise e-commerce in a way that protects local products and internal trade from online shopping.

Prior to the decision, Jordanians were able to purchase clothes, shoes, foodstuffs and children’s toys at a cost of up to JD200 per month without having to pay customs fees, with the cap being JD2,400 each year; however after the decision, the cap will be JD500 each year. 

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