The government in Jordan has temporarily halted high-volume olive oil imports from Palestine due to the kingdom’s bumper harvest.
Hazem al-Samadi, deputy secretary general of the Ministry of Agriculture’s marketing and quality department, said the imports are “rejected at this time due to the peak of the local production season.”
Al-Samadi added the measure would be temporary while the olive harvest is ongoing in the country.See Also:Olive Oil Trade News
Farmers and producers in Jordan expect to produce more than 30,000 tons of olive oil, a 25-percent increase compared to the previous crop year. According to the International Olive Council, Jordan produced 22,000 tons of olive oil in the 2021/22 crop year.
The measure enacted by the Middle Eastern kingdom does not come as a surprise, as similar regulations were passed in December 2021.
Challenges abound for Palestinian olive oil exporters, as most of their operations fall under complex agreements with Israel. In April 2020, a commercial dispute about the Israeli cattle market led to a temporary blockade of Palestinian olive oil exports to Jordan by Israeli officials.
International Olive Council (IOC) figures show that the sovereign state, which includes the West Bank and Gaza Strip, produced approximately 27,000 tons of olive oil in the 2021/22 crop year. For the current harvest, expectations run high, with producers in the Gaza Strip anticipating a good harvest.
To help Palestinian producers, the United Kingdom and Indonesia signed separate free trade agreements in 2019. According to a 2018 report from the World Bank, 4.6 percent of the Palestinian gross domestic product, $66.7 million at the time, came from the olive oil sector.
Recent estimates from the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) confirm these findings. In 2020, Palestinian olive oil exports represented 4.8 percent of the state’s total exports. In addition, OEC figures show that 77 percent of all Palestinian exports in 2020 went to Israel, with 8.5 percent shipping to Jordan.
While speaking to journalists, al-Samadi stressed how Palestinian families crossing the border to Jordan will still be allowed to carry up to a maximum of 32 liters of olive oil with them.
Some flexibility in the new rules is crucial for many families and farms which operate near the border and, in a few cases, in both Jordan and the West Bank.