The EU has relaxed trade rules with Jordan in a bid to create jobs for Syrian refugees

The EU has relaxed trade rules with Jordan in a bid to create jobs for Syrian refugees

Jordanian clothing exporters are unhappy that the European Union (EU) has insisted their workforces comprise a minimum 15% of Syrian refugees (rising to 25% in three years' time) to benefit from special access to EU markets through the generalised scheme of preferences (GSP).

While this does mean their products will attract lower or no export duties when exported to the EU, an executive attending a meeting of Jordanian companies that manufacture under the 'Made in Jordan' label says the sector opposes the employment condition, as it had already started a pilot project to employ 2,000 refugees at the beginning of 2016.

"The agreement is not very encouraging to the sector," Dina Khayyat, chairman of the Jordan Garments, Accessories and Textiles Exporters' Association (JGATE), also told just-style.

Manufacturers at the meeting added that the EU waiving the 12% apparel duty did not give Jordan a major trade advantage due to the country's higher production costs compared to other garment exporting countries such as Bangladesh that already export to Europe.

Indeed, several leading garment companies based in Jordan already have factories in low cost countries with duty-free access to the EU.

Also, the scheme to employ Syrians has not been very successful, with few Syrians taking up jobs, citing the low salary of JOD190 (US$268) a month, fear of losing financial aid from international donors, and work permit issues.

Jordanian employers, meanwhile, have blamed bureaucratic hurdles, abrupt changes to legislation on employment laws, and the managerial time involved to hire Syrians as well as the time needed to train potential Syrian employees, for the problems.

EU relaxes origin rules on Jordan clothing exports