PalTrade provides a wide range of export support services in the areas of export development and market intelligence, export promotion, and export policy and advocacy.Clearly, PalTrade is trying to help the Palestinian economy through increasing exports. But exporting through Jordan is difficult and time consuming. As I quoted a UN report in 2012:
PalTrade identifies and brings visibility to Palestinian exporters by unleashing their export potential to transform their businesses and accelerate prosperity in their communities.
Most Palestinian traders say it is still quicker and cheaper to export goods via Israel than Jordan.Although people have been trying to get Jordan to improve the crossing, nothing has changed.
Palestinian goods moving to or from Jordan must cross Allenby Bridge, where cargo is removed from Palestinian trucks, inspected, and then loaded onto Jordanian trucks. The process takes 4-8 hours or longer, and Allenby’s scanners cannot handle large cargo, reports the World Bank.
Since containers are prohibited from entering Jordan or Israel, Palestinian shippers say they often reconfigure cargo onto smaller pallets for inspection, and there is no cold storage.
If Palestinian shippers had consistent access to outside markets via Allenby Bridge, it could increase trade by as much as 30 percent annually, according to Paltrade.
So about 80% of Palestinian exports go through Israel. Also, access to European markets make much more sense through Israel than through Jordan, so even if the Allenby Bridge route improves, Israel would still need to be the major route for Palestinian exports and imports.
So PalTrade must work closely with Israeli authorities and exporters in order to facilitate Palestinian trade.
However, when it was discovered that PalTrade was hosting a training session for Palestinian exporters, sponsored by the Norwegian government, in Tel Aviv this month, they came under heavy criticism. PalTrade is called a bunch of "traitors," "betraying the Palestinian cause" and "treacherous."
Khalil Rizk, chairman of the Federation of Palestinian Chambers of Commerce, said, "This is shameful and flawed, this departure from the national consensus and our committed decision to boycott everything related to meetings with the occupation authorities."
30 businessmen from the West Bank signed up for the training sessions, at a cost of 600 shekels each including transportation to and from Tel Aviv.
However, after these complaints, PalTrade says they canceled the session, saying it wil be rescheduled to take place in Jordan instead. In some reports, the head of PalTrade claims that he rejected the Tel Aviv venue immediately and told the Norwegian sponsors that, which does not seem to be true since registratioon forms were available.
So we have self-appointed Palestinian business leaders doing the opposite of what actual Palestinian businessmen want - which is to make money. The people who are supposed to support the Palestinian economy are working to stifle it.
One wonders what the Norwegian sponsors feel about all this.
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